Anna’s Campaign: Spectre of Justice for Jessica

Panini Anand for BeyondHeadlines

Anna Hazare does not think Baba Ramdev is corrupt. He supports capital punishment, and the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi appears outdated to him. Ram Madhav, spokesperson of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), too came to meet him. Corporate, politicians, NGOs, communal forces (those against reservations) and the gamut of people represented by the Nira Radia all registered their presence at the Jantar Mantar.

Anna has become alive Gandhi. People are flogging around him to prove their credibility. In this country, many have been on strikes for years for justice, without much yield. On the same Jantar Mantar, many Dalits (scheduled castes), minority and farmers rallied in even larger numbers and with “more” honest intents. But the collective memory hardly remembers any. Not even the media.

While breaking fast Anna talked of extending the sovereignty to villages – gram swaraj. But when lakhs of farmers were dying of starvation and poverty, Anna watched asa mute spectator. Instead of black sheep around him against corruption, it would have been better had Anna sat on fast for those poor farmers in Delhi and forced the government to take steps to save those poor souls.

Anna who is fighting for the rights of the people have never spoken against the draconian treatment of rights activist Dr Binayak Sen and demanded his bail. Is Anna a Gandhian?

Even if I accept most of the clauses of the Jan Lokpal Bill, I can never support the “method” adopted to press for it by the so-called “civil society” of self-proclaimed champions of people’s causes. Neither their polity is clear nor their ideology. They claim to be “apolitical,” but their ally Ramdev has already declared plans to launch his political party.

I respect many of the people who had assembled at Jantar Mantar and appreciate their honest attempt to weed out corruption. But when I witnessed the “spectre” there, I realized it was only the repeat telecast of the World Cup Victory celebration. This was an opportunity for the photo shoot. I did not see the “blood for revolution” in the crowd’s eyes. They were looking for cameras. This was an extension of the “No one killed Jessica” campaign aimed at “activism tourism.”

Baba Ramdev is a corrupt businessman who wears the saffron garb of nationalism, and people think that a “holy man” cannot be corrupt. They think business man has to wear suits and drive a car.

Anna never demanded death sentence for Raj Thackeray. He helped break fast of his colleagues not from nimbu paani (salted lemon water) but Nimbuz – packed lemon water. Way to go for the gram swaraj (village sovereignty)!

If corruption can be only in the form of cash and wealth, even I respect Anna’s integrity. But what about someone who is allowing himself to be used by corrupt people? Is Anna so naïve that he does not understand all this?


Panini Anand is the Web Editor of Sahara Samay. He has previosuly worked with the BBC Hindi Service. Translated from Hindi by M Reyaz.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BH’s editorial policy.


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