Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines
The nation-wide movement against corruption and black money seems to have woken up the common masses from their deep slumber. Corruption has deeply entrenched the Indian nation as evident in the recent scams of 2G Spectrum, Commonwealth Games and the Adarsh Housing Society.
This was the reason why people have been agitated enough to come out and participate along with the fasting of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. Common citizens joined the civil society’s movement against corruption. Such a wide scale mobilization reminds the JP movement of the late 1970s, which nonetheless later impacted the secular fabric of the nation by giving birth to a divisive and radical Hindutva movement. This must serve as a reminder whether the current movement has anything hidden to give birth at a later stage.
Some of the key actors who are involved in this movement have dubious pasts. Whether it is the Anna or especially the Baba, they cannot avoid the questions related to their team members and their real intention behind supporting the movement. There is an urgent need to ask a few questions to understand their stand point and motives.
What is corruption for Mr. Anna Hazare? Is it just financial irregularities? Mr. Hazare has been a social activist raising many issues and leading many a movements. But what baffles many is that, he has never raised his voice against the communal riots in the country. His native state Maharashtra has seen many such riots where Hindutva forces, most often with the support of the administration, have attacked the Muslim community with impunity. Riots like that of the Gujarat Riots, Meerut riots, Aligarh riots, Bhagalpur riots, Sohrabuddin encounter and the recent Batla house fake encounters are just a few cases that come to mind when we think of communalism of one strand (of the Hindutva type) or the other (of the State communalism through police etc). These events ironically have not been enough to stir Mr. Hazare’s soul! Hazare has hardly ever spoken against the likes of Raj Thackerey or Ram Madhav.
If we just confine corruption to the aspect of misuse of public money then there is very little doubt on Anna’s honesty. But if Anna despite being honest allows him to be used by the dishonest and the communal forces, then this is set to take a dangerous turn. I believe Anna is not unaware of these elements in his team.
Baba Ramdev has been another charismatic character with a large following but has dubious credentials as far as financial honesty is concerned. He has donated money to the BJP. The Ramlila Maidan fasting along with Babri Masjid demolition accused Sadhvi Rithambara who shared the centre stage only made it amply clear that the Baba has been working as an RSS agent. Other questions related to Baba’s past have resurfaced now. There have been questions on the source of his income and on the financial irregularities at Patanjali Yog Peeth, Hardwar. He has been alleged to have a hand in the disappearance or the killing of his own Spiritual Guru Shankar Dev and the Baba is also alleged to have kidnapped and threatened the head of the Aastha TV Channel. In addition, the death of Mr. Rajiv Dixit, the secretary of Baba’s own Swabhiman Trust has made people ask uncomfortable questions on Baba’s role.
Another important flag bearer of this movement has been Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. I have heard very interesting tales on him. He is the same person who got international recognition of Ramon Magsaysay Award for his work in Sundar Nagari of Delhi. Mr.Kejriwal has reached many heights and unfortunately Sundar Nagari remains what it was. Sundar Nagari which has large chunk Muslim population do not even know Mr. Kejriwal, let alone his work. Arvind also helped in opening the Call centres in Bihar which in turn helped the image of Nitish Kumar. Arvind is well aware what has happened to the call centre. Mr Kejriwal these days does not like to attend the small RTI seminars. In fact he has no time to do such things as he is busy awarding people for RTI. Why does he need to be free from these awards as through these he gets the donations from the likes of the Infosys and the TATA.
It becomes incumbent on us not only to expand the definition and scope of corruption but also to understand and know the past of some of these key figures of the anti-corruption movement.