Open Letter to Anna Hazare…

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 11:22 hrs

Dear Anna Hazare,

First things first: You have done a fine job in 2011. You captured the nation’s imagination and led modern India’s biggest anti-corruption movement. Thanks to you, the issue of corruption remained firmly in the limelight and the Lokpal Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha. That is indeed commendable.

However, having said that, it is high time you moved on from the issue of the Lokpal Bill and focused on something else. The reason is simple. There is nothing more to be done on it. The politicians have been pushed to the absolute corner and nothing more can be extracted from them.

Parliament may or may not pass the Lokpal Bill in the summer session and after that you can take a call. Campaigning against the Congress won’t help as all the parties are equally corrupt and are equally opposed to the Lokpal no matter what their public postures are.

Here are five issues you could look at instead…

1. Electoral Reforms: You keep talking about this and it’s high time you took it up. The timing is perfect. In the upcoming assembly elections, instead of opposing any political party, it will make more sense to show the country how things go wrong during the electoral process and how they can be done better. 

While Right to Recall may be slightly impractical, the Right to Reject could go a long way in getting the right candidates on the list. Even the CEC has shown interest in that. It would boost the voting percentage and keep a lot of bad candidates out of future elections.

Election funding is a huge issue and if a lot of black money is used during campaigning then it is very difficult for any new politician to make a clean and honest beginning in the parliament or assembly. All these things can be highlighted from January end to March beginning instead of going after any one political party.

2. Model Village Movement: One read that in Ralegaon Siddhi, thanks to your watershed efforts, the amount of land under cultivation went up by thousands of acres. Your inspiration and leadership could help others form thousands of such model villages all across India.

Even in the Bhoodan movement (where wealthy landowners were persuaded to donate land as part of reforms) Vinoba Bhave started with 250 acres and ended up with 5 million.

You could similarly start a national Model Village Movement. Your achievements in things like the strengthening the Gram Sabha, creating a Grain Bank and diverse issues like education and milk production are well known.

3. The Position of Lokpal: The Lokpal Bill may be out of our hands, but the position of the Lokpal is not. TN Seshan transformed the office of the Chief Election Commissioner. Today the CEC continues to be strong and had the guts to cover Mayawati’s statues no matter what the stringent criticism.

The current Comptroller and Auditor General also lifted the lid on many scams. In fact once the Lokpal Bill becomes an Act, the most important thing will be automatically the person who will be eventually selected as the Lokpal. A campaign to see the right candidate getting selected would go a long way in the fight against corruption.

4. Specific Corruption Cases: In Maharashtra you have been campaigning for close to two decades on specific corruption cases and have seen great success there.

That’s because you focused on specific issues like the RTI Act, the Official Duties Act, liquor from food grains etc. You managed to get results in many of these campaigns. Similarly, you could handle critical issues like that, but on the national level.

5. The Northeast: After your August Kranti, Irom Sharmila’s fast in Manipur also came to the limelight. Some activists invited you there. Irom is opposing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which is indeed a very tricky issue.

You are in a unique situation of being both an ex-Army man and social activist to boot. You could well be acceptable to both parties and choose to mediate on that. There are many more such issues where you could be an acceptable face to both opposing parties.These are just some of the things that can be done and you will definitely have dozens of more ideas which will be much better in quality.

Just don’t waste your time on the Lokpal Bill anymore which in any case is akin to flogging a dead horse. You must have seen for yourself that at the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai recently.
The nation needs you for many other things and best of luck for all of those.

Yours sincerely,
Sunil Rajguru

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