The latest media poster boy, Anna Hazare is enjoying his new found fame at the cost of visible unease in the Congress and the hidden unease within the main opposition BJP.
On the one hand the core issue of corruption as a deep entrenched menace to the society is well appreciated, the method or approach adopted by the Anna to flush it out from the system leaves much to be desired.
When the government of the day buckled under pressure of Anna’s 5-day fast and agreed to the setting up of a committee of 10 people to draft a bill for tackling corruption, it took the unprecedented step of giving an equal say to the non-elected persons to have a say in formulation of a future law. This act was the begining of belitling the electoral process, degrading the position of elected members and allowing non-elected people to frame laws.
What transpired during the life of the committee where politicians deftly brushed aside the diktats of the non-political members was a natural result of excessive use of public hype against seasoned members of the political and administrative system. At this point, I must say that the general public, especially the youth who have jumped on board the Anna team are unaware of the darker sides of this campaign.
Corruption is not merely the act of undue gratification by way of monetary benefits or benefits in kind, either directly or indirectly, to a person associated with political system or with the system of administration and governance of affairs in a country. A corrupt act encompasses a wider definition, which covers all such acts, deeds and motives which aim to get around to do something which in normal circumstances is either not easily doable or something immoral, illegal or beyond the capacity of execution of a person of ordinary means. Considering this, all those joining Anna Hazare’s movement need to first do a reality check on themselves and on those whom they are following and joining in the movement. They need to analyse as to why suddenly one man and his ‘coterie’ has come up with so much of morality and goodness in life as to attempt to bring a law, which according to them, is the effective mean of ending corruption in public life.
As an individual, Anna Hazare may have had a non-corrupt public life, but then at 74 years of age, he has had not much credible achievement within the limits of the state of Maharashtra, except of course forcing certain ministers and a powerful leader of a political party at the Centre having its root in Maharashtra to concede ground to him at certain points in time. Such a person arousing hysteria amongst the masses at the national level is something which may not bode well for the future of democracy in India.
Now, going beyond the level of the drafting committee which ultimately ended up inconclusively with two sets of bills, the next level in this process shifted to the Government’s authority to draft a legislation to be presented to Parliament for discussion, approval and subsequent enactment. However, no sooner has the Government introduced the bill in Parliament, this gentleman has again resorted to arousing mass hysteria and indulging in act of burning the copies of a bill which is introduced in Parliament. These acts were more prominently done during the British Raj where the existence of Parliament controlled by the British was not acceptable to the Indian public. In the present times, the Parliament is India’s supreme body authorised by the Constitution to make and amend laws and the act of burning a bill placed before the Parliament is a direct challenge to the existence of this august body.
What is surprising is the silence of the Government and the judiciary in taking to task such acts. If today, one Anna Hazare is allowed to dictate what laws should be framed by Parliament, then the very existence of a democratic system is at risk and in future there may not be any need for a Parliament to legislate. This responsibility may be forcefully taken up by more of such Hazares, Kejriwals, Bhushans and their likes. And to support them will be the ignorant Indian public, who may eventually suffer at the hands of such people.
If the bill in its present form is not acceptable, the recourse is wide open to the members of Parliament to debate, oppose and bring amendments. If the Anna is being supported by any political party, then his recourse is to use their services rather than indulge in openly degrading Parliament and the democratic system. The Constitution has granted the right to protest, but not at the cost of challenging the Constitution itself, for any act against Parliamentary democracy is a challenge to the principles laid down in the Constituion. Mr. Hazare and his coterie may well be advised to contest elections and voice their opinion in Parliament rather than resorting to pressure tactics at Jantar Mantar or the Ramlila Grounds.