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'Movement against corruption is not Anna's personal fiefdom'

Last updated on: August 16, 2011 13:51 IST

'It smacks of the Emergency'

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Activist Anna Hazare has to give up his irrationally anti-political stance for the movement against corruption to succeed, K Govindacharya tells Bhavdeep Kang

The detention of Anna Hazare and his aides is an act of repression by a government drunk with power, believes social activist K Govindacharya.

"It smacks of the Emergency and could well lead to a 1975-style mass movement," he said.

At the same time, he warned that Anna and his aides should shed their authoritarian and arbitrary approach as, "otherwise there could be a repeat of 1980 as well" (when Indira Gandhi came back to power after the Emergency).

Although the Congress has accused Govindacharya of being the force behind Anna, the former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak expressed reservations about the methods and approach adopted by the activist.

"The movement against corruption is not Anna's personal fiefdom and he should not treat it as such. All those opposed to corruption should present a joint front," he said.


Image: Activist Anna Hazare after being detained by police in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'Government is spreading conspiracy theories'

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The government was trying to avoid dealing with the core issues of corruption and black money instead of facing up to them, he said.

"This ostrich-like stance on transparency and accountability is not in accordance with the public mood. The government has adopted not just repressive and divisive tactics, it is also spreading defamatory and conspiracy theories in order to undermine the movement in precisely the same manner that Indira Gandhi sought to undermine Jai Prakash Narayan by accusing him of being a CIA agent," he pointed out.

By charging him and right-wing ideologue S Gurumurthy of being the brains behind Anna Hazare, the government was trying to link the anti-corruption movement to the RSS, just as Indira Gandhi had sought to do with Jai Prakash Narayan, alleged Govindacharya.

The late leader had had the courage to say that these issues were important and all those who subscribed to them were welcome to stand with him. "This JP-like self-confidence is something Anna has failed to display," he added.

The former pracharak was also critical of Anna's "irrationally" anti-political stance.


Image: K Govindacharya

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'Our activists are on the streets'

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Corruption is an ethical issue but the battle against it has to be fought on political grounds otherwise the movement will be short-lived with no concrete outcomes, believes Govindacharya.

A touch-me-not approach to politics and politicians will not serve the interests of the anti-corruption campaign in the long run, he said.

He advocated a coordinated approach among anti-corruption activists with focus on core issues, on which there is a general agreement.

There are currently three groups in the fray: Anna Hazare's group which is supported by centrist and Left parties, Baba Ramdev's group which enjoys the tepid support of the right-wing and Govindacharya's Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan -- a conglomeration of NGOs and civil society groups.

But Govindacharya clarified that his outfit was definitely backing Anna, adding, "Our activists are on the streets at this moment in his support".


Image: Baba Ramdev
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'Close down all branches of Swiss banks'

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In fact, it was Hazare who wanted them to keep a distance so as not to give the Congress an opportunity to claim that the movement had the backing of the RSS.

"They will learn from experience, just as Baba Ramdev has. No movement can survive by being exclusionist, it has to inclusive," he says.

A three-way course correction by Anna Hazare is needed, says Govindacharya. First, according to him, there could be no abstract approach to the issue of black money.

"Demand specific action. Ask the government to name the corrupt, to give us the identities of those who have Swiss bank accounts. If the Swiss government does not agree, pressurise it. Close down all branches of Swiss banks and do not let the Swiss do business here. Take it up in international fora and tell the Swiss that not sharing information amounts to supporting terrorism," he said.

 


Image: Anna Hazare at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Rajghat in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'Hazare should not take unilateral decisions'

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Secondly, says Govindacharya, Hazare should not take unilateral decisions like pushing his own draft of the Lokpal Bill rather than the one arrived at by consensus among all the activists.

Thirdly, Anna should not subscribe to the doctrine of 'untouchability' from any section or group. If the movement is truly issue-based, then all those who believe in these issues are part of it, he said.

To deliberately exclude certain groups on the basis of personal beliefs or caprices is unacceptable, Govindacharya observed.


Image: Anna Hazare, surrounded by his supporters, prays at Rajghat
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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