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A Political Abortion

Adhikar/Aug 2011

A Political Abortion

The Anti-Corruption Campaign led by Anna Hazare and his team has succeeded in getting a particular class of people align with his movement, who were till now unprepared to think of anything beyond own profit, which is a positive contribution of the Campaign. But at the same time, this Campaign also pushed many of the important issues to the side burner.

The question now arises, can corruption be solved through the Jan Lokpal Bill? The answer to this can only be negative, which Anna Hazare and his team also know. Then why make so much noise for Jan Lokpal bill? We will be able to understand this only when we put together the incidents behind this and try to understand the movement. Before this Movement started, other issues were in popular discourse, which affected common people like land acquisition, climate change, increasing gap between poverty and riches caused by the industry-centred development and price rise. A wide discussion was taking place in the country on these issues, staring from the local level to the national level. This discussion had begun to make those sitting in government uncomfortable. Because their faces had started falling not only among the people, but also among Corporate houses. Because the government was unable to fulfill the promises it made to investors.

This was because the people had understood that these promises of the government were against their interests. Therefore the people of majority of the states like Jharkhand, Orissa and Chattisgarh were seen out on the streets, in a bid to protect their interests. They held on, despite all kinds of physical, mental and economic exploitation on them. Hundreds of these agitators became victims to police bullets. In Chattisgarh, Salwa Judum, had unleashed a bloody trail of murders and rapes. In other words, this cycle of exploitation and repression along with the nationwide protest of the people had put forward a desire for a broad-based debate.

At the base of this debate was the anti-people character and history of the ruling class. There was a hope from this debate, which had just got sparked off that it would bring in some changes. Footfalls were being heard of the impending changes. The same supreme court of India, which had earlier freed the perpetrators of the heinous rape on Bhanwari Devi, a Dalit woman, on the ground that they belonged to a higher caste, now started giving out verdicts against the illegal means adopted by companies like Jindal, Mittal, Posco and Vedanta groups A process of Review of laws had also started at the assembly and Parliament levels. This was not just a change of heart of the supreme court and Pariamen. But a change was going to happen. It is another matter how much of space would there have been for the voices of the common man in this process, but this could have been corrected under pressure from people’s movements and struggles.

At this critical time, when change was imminent, Anna Hazare’s Anti- Corruption Campaign caused this change to be aborted politically. And this is the reason why those people who are desirous of keeping status quo in tact and who stand to gain by it were coming out in support of the movement in large numbers like flies and insects. Anna’s devotees had started coming out not only in Delhi, but in all cities, big and small towns and even in the small lanes and bylanes of villages. In 13 days, these devotees and disciples had caused such an uproar that that government had to bend before them. I am not saying that corruption is not an issue issue. I am saying that corruption is a product of the political and economic systems, which the present system is nurturing. We cannot finish it off unless we attack the system. But this movement had mobilized the same people who are promoting corruption day in and day out. We have seen that a lot of

noise had been made about corruption even during the JP movement Without going into the fall-outs of that movement, I just want to say that in the name of bringing an end to the ‘licence-permit raj’ in the country, genuine people’s issues have been pushed back. Even if there was a discussion o nthese issues, it was only after weighing advantages and disadvantages carefully. A new system has been ushered in, one which accepts the dominance of market. And we are seeing how this new system promotes corruption.

How much of this corruption will be erased by the Jan Lokpal Bill, only time can tell. But this group of people who have fed corruption have now become aware that they can make the government bend before their supremacy as and when they want. Particularly, when they can take the media in hand. In today’s world, whether it is political change or social change, the role of media is undeniable. Anna Team understood this well and used it in their movement very well.

Finally, I just want to add this, on august 9th, the day Anna started his fast, the same day, three farmers were shot dead by the police in his home state, Maharashtra. These farmers were among the farmers protesting against a water pipeline in Pune district, which would devastate their fields. I was clear that Anna Hazare will not express grief over the deaths of these farmers, not only during the fast period, even after that.

I am forced to say this because, in the whole country when farmers were committing suicide, anna Hazare had kept quiet about it. Likewise, about the atrocitires on Dalits and Adivasis in Posco area or Niyamgiri or Jharkhand, anna would have hardly made any comments, ever. Anna Hazare, does not get tired talking about Gandhi, the same Gandhi who was fighting the rioters at Naokhali, single-handedly at the time when the whole country was celebrating the new dawn of national Independence.