• kewal sethi

after anna – what

after anna – what

kewal krishan sethi

it is said that democracy scored a major victory when the politicians bowed to anna to discuss his bill and adopt a resolution which recommends to the standing committee to take note of the suggestions made by anna and which are agreed to in spirit by the parliament. how the standing committee will do it will be known in a few days. the point here is what long term effects, if any, this success will have on indian polity. for the first time people's power has taken hold of the conscious of this nation. it has happened before - in other countries. the best example was in philippines when the dictator marcos had to flee when the people took to the streets. recently it has happened in tunisia and then in egypt. but perhaps this is the first time that public opinion mattered in india.

it was not done with grace. the powers that be tried their best to discredit the movement. from calling anna as corrupt from top to toe to refusing permission to protest and even when they were forced to grant permission, with such conditions as to make a nonsense of the permission. it was claimed that the movement is anti democratic, it devaluates the democratic institutions, it is against the law and so on. government had taken the same path when baba ramdev went on a fast. due to inexperience of baba ramdev and naivety of his advisors, the government move succeeded. it thought the same tactics will do the trick again. but the spontaneous response that anna's movement generated all over india made all these attempts irrelevant. from bravado, the government went into nervousness. and not only the government, in fact all politicians of every hue were shocked by the outburst of anger of the citizens. it had never happened before.

but some points should be noted. almost the entire press was critical of the movement. it was said that anna had no representative character. it was said that they should fight the elections and get a majority and then only think of changing the law. attempts were made to divide the people, in the old style of divide and rule. any excuse was good enough. the slogan vande matram was decried. the participation of some RSS swayamsevaks was cited as proof of partisanship. it was even claimed that it was a movement against the depressed classes. when they could not criticise the principles and had to laud them, they questioned the methods. but the people ignored all these and went ahead with the protest. it is a lesson which newspapers should learn.

what of the future? as expected the entire government machinery is after them. in the case of baba ramdev, the nationality of key supporter was questioned. CBI found time to register and investigate the case. drug controller found fault with the medicines, the enforcement directorate with the foreign remittances, the income tax with the income. same tactics are being repeated with members of anna team. during the movement they were in stupor but they are back with a vengeance. income tax authorities suddenly wake up to find that kejriwal had violated the conditions of a bond. the parliamentarians found that they had been called names which effected their privileges. these are pin pricks and will continue. may be in some cases they will succeed in denigrating the persons. it does not really matter.

but the movement has taught the people one thing. they have learnt that people's power matters. if it can be done at the national level, it can be done at the state level also. if it can be done by one civil society, it can be done by another. there is no dearth of people who would be available. the number of anna's will grow. whether their stature would match the task they undertake to do will depend upon the person but ultimately this is going to come about. this is what the real democracy is about. democracy – real democracy – is when the people's voice is heard. in one meeting, it was said that democracy means governance through our representatives. we should leave these matters to them. but this argument can be easily rebutted by pointing out that we choose our representatives, not our masters. unfortunately the chosen people start behaving like our masters who cannot be bothered for five years. they do entertain us by snapping at each other and keep us amused by their antics but in reality they do not like to rock their boat preferring to go in for shadow boxing rather than fight out the issues of public concern. it was a good idea of anna to exhort people to demonstrate before the houses of the mp's to remind them that they are supposed to represent our view in the parliament, not the views of their masters, who choose them to stand as candidates in elections and then control them through the anti defection act. this law about defection hits at the basic principle of representation of the people and should be done away with as early as possible. only this will make the leadership responsive to these representatives and through them to the people.

the need of the hour is to organize such groups everywhere – in the villages, in the mohallas of the towns. these groups should become so powerful that even in choosing the candidates for elections, their views would be sought. in delhi they have resident welfare societies for small localities. unfortunately they are handmaidens of politicians. this should change and change they will. therein lies the strength of anna movement. the skirmish has been won but with the insincere politicians, the battle may yet be lost. but that should not discourage any one. this battle is designed to be lost. there are too many vested interests. it hits at the very base of the masters.

but if we can learn the underlying message, then the loss of the battle would not matter. ultimately war will be won. let us organize for that. it will be long drawn out struggle but ultimate victory will be of the people and of the people power. the people may score small victories in the beginning but that will lead to bigger battles and bigger victories till at last the people are the masters as they should be in democracy.


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