Anti-Corruption

Advani Blogs on Anna Hazare

New Delhi: After Modi, now it’s the turn of veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Lal Krishna Advani. He has also written on his blog about Anna Hazare. Following is the full text of the latest blog on Anna Hazare:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011
THE ANNA HAZARE EPISODE

After witnessing the World Cup Final at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, on April 2nd, I had written that it was not just the thousands at the stadium who were exploding with joy, the entire country felt ecstatic and proud the moment they heard that India had won the cup. I am not surprised that reporting Government’s assurance to Anna Hazare on the basis of which the veteran has called off his fast, the Times of India‘s front page Banner Headline says: INDIA WINS AGAIN !

On the evening of Friday April 8, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee rang me up to apprise me about the terms of the deal government had been able to work out with Hazare. He said Government has assured Anna that the Lokpal Bill as drafted by the proposed Committee, would be introduced in Parliament during its Monsoon session.  My comment was: Let it be passed in that session. Even if the Bill is to be referred to the Standing Committee, it can be finalized and passed. Every one is keen that there be no delay in tackling corruption.  In fact Government should be conscious that the dimensions of corruption have become so frightening that the assault on this malady has to be multi-pronged.

A meeting of political parties should be convened to discuss this issue particularly in the context of black money and curbing money-power in elections.

Panic-stricken by the groundswell of public support Anna Hazare’s fast against corruption had received, Government finally succumbed.  But as India Today remarked, not before “showing its mean face”!

The report, by Kay Benedict and Ashish Sinha, went on to say: ‘Liberally loading its smear brush with saffron, a senior party leader fumed: “He is not a Gandhian, but an RSS agent.’

Anna Hazare’s own comment about this charge was: “Those who wear coloured glasses see everything in one colour.”

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Anna wrote: “Kindly stop finding faults and suspecting conspiracies in our movement. Even if there were, it does not absolve you of your responsibility to stop corruption.”

Opposition Parties in Parliament have ample justification to hold that it is their protest during the last winter session of Parliament against the series of scams that had surfaced, that has triggered off a jana andolan against corruption.

When I first met Baba Ramdev at the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, I kept thinking how his excellent grasp of the contribution that Yogasanas can make towards the health of a common citizen irrespective of his or her age, combined with the impact of television, had made him a rare phenomenon.

In these last six decades there have been many other masters of the science of yoga – some of them perhaps equipped with even greater expertise THAN Baba Ramdev, but if none could achieve the status of an icon as Ramdevji has achieved, it is only because in this latter case it is oriental wisdom being blended with western technology that has worked wonders.

In Anna Hazare’s case, T.V. has been replaced by IT and it has made the 73-year old veteran ex-serviceman another icon not just for the country but for Indians around the globe.

The immediate effect has been that the JPC which the NDA, supported by the entire opposition could achieve only after two months and that too after the opposition had created history by not allowing Parliament to have any business for the whole of the winter session, Hazare was able to achieve his limited objective of a more effective Lokpal Bill within four days of his announcement of a fast unto death.

I wish Government realizes that in both cases – the opposition’s success in getting a JPC, and in Anna’s success about a law for Lokpal, the principal contributory has been the UPA Government itself which by now has earned the singular reputation of being the most corrupt government independent India has seen.

The series of scams that have surfaced in recent months and their cost dimensions for the country have really created a feeling of intense anger against the establishment. Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare are widely perceived as upright persons who have no personal axe to grind. By taking up a campaign against corruption they have become natural recipients of public acclaim.

There is no dearth of analysts who hold that the popularity of these two personalities have a lot to do with the fact that they shun political personalities. No wonder the news that Uma Bharati was turned away from Jantar Mantar, the venue of Anna Hazare’s fast was very prominently publicized. It was done by some who claimed to be Anna’s followers.  It is index of Anna’s innate decency, and his disinclination to believe that all politicians are corrupt that when he learnt about this he publicly apologized to Uma.

In fact, I am of the view that those who revel in spreading a general climate of disdain about politics and politicians are doing a gross disservice to democracy.

Despite the short comings of Indian democracy we still have conscientious and upright politicians in the country and it is they who still give people optimism and confidence for the future.

In my political life of over six decades, I personally have worked with Deendayal Upadhyaya, Jaya Prakash Narain, A.B. Vajpayee, and Nanaji Deshmukh who are role-models not only for those in politics, but for all Indians irrespective of their avocation.

Speaking about role-models in the field of politics, I am reminded of a superb biography of Abraham Lincoln I had read last year.  Titled Team of Rivals, the book had earned the Pulitzer Prize for its author Doris Kearns Good win.

In her Introduction to the book, Goodwin wrote:

This is a story of Lincoln’s political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates; to share credit with ease, and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his governing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidential prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing. His success in dealing with the strong egos of the men in his cabinet suggests that in the hands of a truly great politician the qualities we generally associate with decency and morality – kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty, and empathy – can also be impressive political resources.” (emphasis added)

When Barack Obama was asked which book he could not do without in the White House, his answer was instant: Team of Rivals. What struck me most when I first laid hands on this book were two quotations about President Lincoln of the United States highlighted at the beginning:

Here are the two quotations :

“The conduct of the republican party in this nomination is a remarkable indication of small intellect, growing smaller.  They pass over… statesmen and able men, and they take up a fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar.”
The New York Herald (May 19, 1860).

“The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln.  His example is universal and will last thousands of years…..He was bigger than his country – bigger than all the Presidents together … and as a great character he will live as long as the world lives.”
Leo Tolstoy, The World, New York, 1909

***
TAILPIECE

There is an anecdote about visitors to White House when Abraham Lincoln was President.

A group strayed into the President’s personal quarters and was astounded to see the President polishing his shoes.

Taken aback, the leader of the group remarked:  “Mr. President, polishing your own shoes ?”

Lincoln looked up, and said: “Well, gentleman, whose shoes do you polish ?”

L.K. Advani
New Delhi
12 April, 2011

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