He fasted for twelve days to weed out corruption from India. He put his life at stake pressing for a strong and effective anti-corruption legislation — Jan Lokpal Bill. For fifteen days he was all over the nation stirring the country into what was described by over enthusiastic commentators “second freedom” movement.
Surprisingly, however, within less than a month since he ended his campaign, at least on an active scale, neither of the two core issues for which the 74-year-old frail Anna Hazare staked his life (not reputation) seems to have made any tangible progress in the direction the corruption crusader really wanted.
But in the bargain, Hazare achieved more than what he and his associates aspired for. Anna Hazare has emerged as the undisputed leader of the people, rather the middle class. Today, Hazare is indeed more powerful, more admired, more hero-worshipped and more popular than any politician in India, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Lal Krishna Advani included.
The 12-day-long melodrama at Ramlila ground and two weeks of inanity that gripped India gave the nation yet another larger than life personality — a new Gandhi over half a century after the original Gandhi, father of the nation, fell to assassin’s bullets.
And this exclusive nom de plume is certainly more than what the corruption crusader and his team mates ever really bargained for. He is now ready to make his debut into politics and one need not to be a political pundit or a soothsayer to predict his landslide victory if he or his party contests elections in India.
Anna Hazare joining politics is no longer a matter of either conjecture or speculation. In fact, it was the crusader turned redeemer himself announced his willingness to join politics and called for “clean and like-minded people to come together and form a party”. In no uncertain term Anna has made his intentions clear to support a non-Congress and non-BJP political party who would work towards eradication of corruption.
In a few recent TV interviews Anna said: “We don’t attach ourselves with any political party. No political party has a clean image. But, some political parties have got some good candidates. Political parties cannot avoid someone and go ahead.
Like-minded politicians should form a separate party and only then the country can be saved. Otherwise, this country today has not good future. We support only the like-minded people, those who are patriotic and understanding. People can be from many parties”.
Anna evidently wants to play the role of Pitamaha Bhishma or the moral guardian out with a stick in his hand to mend Indian polity. He has encouraged formation of a new political party or a front and has very covertly called for political desertion saying, “In any political party, good leaders are very few. Like-minded, clean leaders from all the parties should come out and save this country. We will support such leaders”.
Anna’s political ambitions have taken India by surprise and have generated a high intensity debate cutting across political lines. They have evoked mixed reactions across the nation with the Marxists hailing the proposal. The middle class Indians, for whom logic ceased to matter and rhetoric swayed them, are puzzled and perceptibly mystified.
His moves are neither surprising nor gratuitous. Politics in India certainly warrants a cleansing and Hazare’s intentions, in essence, are again efforts towards reforming Indian political system and establishment. But the questions are: Is this the way? Is Anna the man fit for the job? How well qualified and trained is this man? Given his extremely mundane background and his abject penury about the nuances of politics can he really be a redeemer?
I have my doubts and I fear that given his moral dictatorial temperament, Anna will only make things worse. My fears, I dare claim, are not without reasons. Hazare has mauled India’s existing political system beyond all recoveries. Decimation of polity in the country is near complete. Politicians are viewed villains responsible for everything bad, even earthquakes. Anna has destroyed India’s political fabric.
Anna, incontrovertibly, never looked apolitical and neither was his campaign against corruption. Hazare’s anti-corruption tirades, in fact, have been a covert political movement undertaken with a single point agenda to embarrass the ruling UPA government but inexplicably maintained a studied silence about the corruptions of BJP government in Karnataka.
It was a movement heavily laced with overdose of romanticism, which, had George Bernard Shaw been alive, would have described as a wishful feeling that everyone in the world nurses between the age of eight and 15.
Political overtone of Hazare was so palpable that he was accused being in league with the BJP and RSS. Some have even accused his campaign undertaken on behalf of the BJP — a party desperate to retain its relevance and to remain in political reckoning.
Politics isn’t the right place for a good man like Anna. Like billions of Indians I too look up to him as my redeemer. And any wrong move on the part of our new Gandhi will be a tragedy. For it will only lend credence to what his disparagers have been saying that we have created Gandhi out of a synthetic Gandhi deliberately turning blind eye to the flaws he emitted.