Sunday, October 23, 2011

Can Anna Hazare be JP 2.0?

Reproduced from the Global Politician...

Ajoy Chatterjee - 9/1/2011

Thousands of brains have stormed to foresee whether Ramlila Ground would be the Tahrir Square of India. Well, the answer is clear now. It did not. Anna Hazare’s ‘Great Indian Fast’ against corruption ended with a declared ‘victory’. But looking at Indian government’s stance, future of the much desired anti-corruption law still does not look very bright. Also, the old Gandhian has stated his plans toward the next agenda – Electoral Reforms, Right to Reject and Right to Recall elected representatives charged with corruption. It is likely, that Ramlila Ground may witness much more in recent future. Nothing is over yet.



Ramlila Ground may not have turned into a Tahrir Square, but I can clearly see the shadow of Jaiprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, in Anna Hazare. JP shook the largest democracy in protest against Indira Gandhi's 'Emergency' of 1975. It was the same Ramlila Ground, where amidst more than a hundred thousand people, JP asked Indira to resign. Déjà Vu. Seeing the huge crowd of youth uttering 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' ('Hail Mother India') in Anna's Ramlila, it seems JP has returned. JP was a Leftist who slightly got tweaked into a Gandhian socialist after joining Indian National Congress. But he could never honor his loyalty to Congress. This Gandhian declaring 'Total Revolution' against the slaughtering of democracy caused the death of Congress government at New Delhi. The first non- and anti-Congress government could never be a reality without JP's war-cry. Anna Hazare, another Gandhian socialist perhaps lags in JP's oratory but is no lesser deity.

Anna's movement demanding Janlokpal Bill, the umbrella ombudsman legislation, is aimed at eliminating corruption from Indian civil life. It sounds as Utopian as did JP, seeking an end to Indira Gandhi's authoritarianism and nepotism. Both appeared, at times, as things too tightly entwined with Indian psyche. Never forget, 'Indira was India' in those days.

Anna is often seen as JP's avatar for some of his grass-root social activism as well. His model village Ralegan Siddhi and rainwater harvesting, crop rotation, self-reliant village might sound too idealistic in a free-trade, less-government modern society but are realities. As real were JP's Sarvodaya and Bhudan movements focusing village upliftment. JP was rubbished by many mainstream politicos then. Anna has been ridiculed too.

Interestingly enough, socialist JP's 'Total Revolution' never assumed the 'Indian Right' as untouchables. The Hindu Nationalist group, namely Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and allied political front Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) leaders were in full collaboration with JP. His Navnirman revolution of 1970's against corruption of Gujarat provincial head Chimanbhai Patel of Congress grew up on foundations created by RSS. Anna's Janlokpal movement, similarly, is now receiving moral backing and manpower from RSS and other organizations perceived as right-wingers, e.g. Swami Ramdev's Bharat Swabhiman Trust.

It took weeks of time, although, for the center-right opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a literal successor of BJS, to lend full-fledged support to Anna Hazare publicly. BJP's upcoming possible Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi has held multiple occasions to throw his weight behind Anna.

Few of Modi's Tweets go as:

"Nation concerned about Anna’s health. Congress talks of democracy & parliament but uses anti-democratic means to wipe out Anna’s movement"

"My request to dear tweeples: let us expose each of the undemocratic means used to curb Anna’s movement through tweets"

It is believed by many that during Navnirman revolution, Modi, a then young RSS volunteer, came to JP's notice!

After Indira's great fall, the ministry in 1977 at New Delhi with Morarji Desai as Prime Minister was seen as an unusual coalition. Unusual, because center-right nationalist BJS and center-left socialist Janata camps came together against Congress imposed Emergency. Anna’s huge appeal has potential to dig down Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi led government on corruption issues. Political pundits are not ruling out possibility of a mid-term election too. But can the socialists and nationalists join hands together again?

India's center-right is no more a minor group as in 70’s but now the principal opponent in parliament. Will a post-Anna fall-out see the return of India's center-right? Only time can tell that. But can Anna be the JP 2.0? Perhaps, yes!

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