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Why this sudden new love for Anna Hazare?

December 18, 2013 08:05 IST

Why this sudden new love for Anna Hazare?

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Renu Mittal

The Congress and BJP are cosying up to Anna Hazare to isolate Arvind Kejriwal, who is appearing to be more difficult and impractical than was thought earlier, and probably to regain some credibility. Renu Mittal reports

The Lokpal Bill described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “landmark step” was passed by the Rajya Sabha with the House witnessing unprecedented unanimity and consensus except for the Samajwadi Party which boycotted the proceedings on the plea that they were opposed to the bill and would not support it at any cost.

The amended bill as cleared by the select committee was also approved and passed the test of credibility with activist Anna Hazare, who was so jubilant at Tuesday turn of event that he broke his eight-day fast.

The manner in which the Congress pushed the bill -- with party vice president Rahul Gandhi making a strong pitch for it -- has raised eyebrows.

Similarly, the Bharatiya Janata Party made a strong pitch for the bill, telling the government that the bill should be passed amidst the noise and the din, and that there was no need for a discussion or a debate.

Sources say that after the Delhi assembly election defeat and the huge support which Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party got from the people, the Congress had to take a U-turn on the bill, realizing that corruption was a big issue amongst the people and that correctives need to be taken if the perception about the party needed to be changed.

Rahul held a press conference appealing to political parties to support the bill. This line of thinking flowed from the aggressive stand taken by him earlier against a proposed ordinance to save tainted netas from being disqualified.

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Senior Congress leaders say that the party has realized that the earlier strategy of taking on Hazare was counter-productive and that it was better to keep him on board in order to isolate Kejriwal, who is appearing to be more difficult and impractical than was thought earlier.

The Congress used back channel moves with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan reportedly opening the road to reach out to Hazare and convincing him of the genuine stand of the Congress and the government in wanting to pass the Bill along with the much stronger recommendations of the select committee which also brings the prime minister under Lokpal’s purview.

The BJP also realized the impact of AAP in Delhi. The party used former cop Kiran Bedi to drive home the point to Hazare that the battle had to be fought within the system and if laws need to be changed, Parliament alone can do it and not a rally at the Ramlila ground.

Rahul, in his letter to Hazare, was humble; he said that the Congress was following the way that the activist had shown to them. In turn, Hazare thanked the Congress vice president for the Lokpal Bill.

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In the process, Kejriwal who ridiculed the bill as “Jokepal” stands isolated since the agenda has gone back to Hazare, the man who began the movement for bringing in a Bill to hold all those who are in the power structure accountable for their actions.

By supporting the AAP in Delhi, the Congress has once again put Kejriwal in a fix.

Senior Congress leaders say it was Rahul who orchestrated the move to give unconditional support to the AAP.

For both the Congress and the BJP, national parties who fight elections across the country, the loss of credibility has come as a big jolt.

Privately, all political leaders admit that the Lokpal Bill is a noose around their neck and any of them could be in big trouble. Publicly, the politician in them needs to revive their credibility to keep the political space occupied, failing which they may lose the battle for survival.




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