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Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

Last updated on: August 16, 2011 16:30 IST

The government should accommodate Anna's suggestions on the Lokpal Bill, says Ram Madhav.

Anna Hazare's decision to go on fast once again and his arrest are going to stir up nationwide reactions.

It is clear that in the government there is enormous anxiety over how the proposed fast would turn out. Would it attract same attention nationally as it did before or it would fizzle out this time? 

The national mood doesn't seem to suggest that. A recent Times of India poll showed that about 80 per cent urban youths strongly support Anna's campaign.

That is bad news for the government.

Ram Madhav is member of the national executive of the RSS


Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

It is the urban crowds -- including film stars, young professionals, sports stars, university-going boys and girls -- that attract maximum media attention.

Our media's weakness for urbane things is too well-known. In fact, Anna's fast on the previous occasion was a major success partly due to the attention it attracted from the media.

That is not to suggest that he doesn't command the support of rural populace.

Corruption in our country has become so frustrating to every ordinary citizen -- an urbanite and a rural man alike -- that today anyone seen fighting against it will immediately receive the support of the whole country.

No section in the country is spared of this national disgrace.

Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

Image: Ram Madhav (middle) with Baba Ramdev at an anti-corruption rally

Corruption has become so virulent that the fed up nation jumps at any bandwagon that is seen to be a bulwark against it. People don't even want rationale -- whether a particular form of protest is justified or not etc.

They just don't want to tolerate this utterly corrupt regime for a single day more.

In fact, Anna's agitation is a product of this public frustration and anger, so were the other agitations like that of Baba Ramdev etc. The support they enjoy had been spontaneous and across the board.

Some in the government and the political establishment tried to give knee jerk reactions but ended up befooling themselves. They resorted to silly and superfluous campaigns like linking the popular anger against the corrupt that has manifested in Anna's and Ramdev's movements to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

They claimed, quoting intelligence sources, that the RSS was behind the movements and the leaders were only their mukhota -- frontmen. They even tried to justify their fascist and unconstitutional midnight crackdown on Ramdev's supporters with the fictitious claim that they had intelligence inputs about massive mobilisation by the RSS to further Baba's campaign.

As writer Pratap Bhanu Mehta stated in one of his articles, they were only enhancing the prestige of the RSS by making such allegations. The RSS has historically been playing an important role in all such public agitations.

In the seventies, when Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan launched his historic campaign against the corrupt in the political establishment the RSS cadres too joined his campaign.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad played a very important role in Loknayak's campaign.

Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

Later when Indira Gandhi imposed the draconian Emergency and curbed all the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country, the RSS cadres actively opposed her undemocratic rule and again joined the Lok Sangharsh Samiti campaign in big numbers.

Even the BBC acknowledged the crucial role played by the RSS during those trying times to save our democracy describing it as "the only non-Leftist force".

But it must be noted that those movements were supported by many other sections of the society too, like the socialists, the Gandhians etc. Even a section of the then Congress party also finally joined Loknayak's movement.

This time too the RSS cadre have been playing a similar role only.

They are not 'behind' anybody nor is anybody their mukhota. They are with every movement that reflected and manifested the determination of the patriotic people to throw out this corrupt political establishment.

Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

They will continue to do so. Even in the forthcoming renewed agitation of Anna the RSS cadres, along with millions of other countrymen, would do their utmost to make it a success.

Though there is a government-sponsored Lokpal Bill before Parliament, the agitators led by Anna say that it is just hogwash.
The government's steadfast opposition to including the prime minister, who is the first among the equals in the cabinet, in the ambit of the bill raises suspicions in the minds of the people about the intentions of the government.

Simply put, the biggest strength of Anna and others is the utter lack of credibility of this government on the question of combating corruption.

People believe Anna more than they believe even the prime minister whose facade of personal honesty stood thoroughly exposed today.

Why the govt cannot put down Anna's movement

Anna's movement is bound to attract huge support from the people. The government seems hell bent on crushing it. Any such misadventure will certainly recoil on the government severely.

Memories of the brutal crackdown on Ramdev's supporters are still very fresh in the minds of the people.

Reactions to its highhandedness would be very serious this time.

Instead the government should try to accommodate the suggestions of Anna and others in its draft bill and then refer it to the Parliament. Even Anna agrees that the Parliament is the supreme authority in passing or not passing the bill.

In either case, the members will be answerable to the voters in their respective areas. That is the only option left for the government now.