Prashant Bhushan: The man everyone loves to hate

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 18, 2011 04:29 hrs

Is there anyone in India who doesn't hate lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, an IIT and Princeton dropout and a man who has been involved with a whopping 500+ Public Interest Litigations (PILs)?

He seems to be suddenly getting it left, right and centre, both practically and politically.

A look at why he arouses so many negative emotions all around...

Why the Congress hates him...

Of course the first reason the Congress hates Bhushan is because of the current anti-corruption campaign where every member of Team Anna is eyed with weariness. That's simple.

What is the biggest single issue plaguing UPA right now? 2G. Well, when former minister Dayanidhi Maran seemed to be let off the hook, Bhushan filed an affidavit against the CBI in the Supreme Court.

What is the next most pressing issue? That could be Telangana, as its agitation threatens to go totally out of hand. When Justice BN Srikrishna submitted his report on the issue, Bhushan promptly termed it negative, alleging that corporate entities dictated the report.

It is no secret that nuclear energy is PM Manmohan Singh's pet issue. He even put UPA1 on the line over the N-deal. Well even that is under fire as agitations are picking up momentum against N-plants.
A few days back, a PIL was filed against India's whole nuclear programme. No prizes for guessing who filed it. Yes, it's Mr Bhushan again.

It's not just now. In the past he has been involved in cases related to the appointment of CVC chief PJ Thomas, the Bhopal gas tragedy and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He even wrote a book on Bofors.

Why the BJP hates him...

Bhushan has taken on the BJP and RSS on issues of communalism. Not once, but many times.
He has been a part of the post-Godhra anti-Narendra Modi campaign. He was the amicus curae before Raju Ramachandran.

He has also ruffled Gujarat CM Modi's feathers over the Narmada issue. Apart from being against the dam project on environmental grounds, he defended Arundhati Roy when she got into trouble with the courts over her Narmada stance.

Why other right-wing groups hate him...

Most right-wing groups' indoctrination revolves around the importance of the Kashmir issue. In fact, a very popular slogan among these groups is: Doodh maango to kheer denge, Kashmir maango to cheer denge! (If you ask for milk, we will give you milk pudding, if you ask for Kashmir, we will rip you apart)

That way, any mention of referendum or plebiscite or anti-Army talk along with anything that remotely seems pro-Pakistan will not go down well. Another issue is Arundhati Roy, who has advocated independence for Kashmir. Bhushan is seen as being too close to Roy.

Naxalism is a burning issue. Recently Bhushan asked for an enquiry into what he called a fake encounter of a Maoist leader. That was seen as a pro-Naxal stance by some. 

Why Anna Hazare has suddenly become wary of him...

Anna Hazare served in the Army for two years. He escaped an attack by the Pakistani Army during the 1965 war. He was the sole survivor of that attack and that set him thinking. He calls that incident the turning point of his life.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (deemed essential for some and vilified by others) helps the Army fight in troubled areas like the Kashmir and the Northeast. So when Bhushan calls for the revocation of the AFSPA and the vacation of the Army from Kashmir, it hits Anna Hazare directly.

For Anna it suddenly is not a political issue, but a personal one.

Why the judges hate him...

Prashant and his father Shanti Bhushan have set up the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reform (CJAR). There have been high-profile campaigns over misconduct, appointments and the role of about half-a-dozen judges. So much so, that both Prashant and Shanti face contempt of court by no less than the SC. Shanti has also expressed his willingness to go to jail over that.

Why the corporates hate him...

Bhushan throughout his life has actively taken up cases related to the environment and tribal rights. Many a times these come into direct confrontation with corporate houses. In fact one of the very first cases he took up was the Doon Valley mining case.

As mentioned above, he has also accused business houses of dictating the Telangana report.

Of course, that's not all. The list of more people who hate him is endless. He filed a case against Amar Singh in the Shanti-Prashant CD case. Guess who fought against Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case? You know the answer.

Parties like Shiv Sena and groups like the Sri Ram Sene never liked him in the first place. You get the picture.

It is a dangerous time to wear the title of India's most hated man in today's politically charged up atmosphere where conditions are bearing a striking resemblance to the pre-Emergency days of the 1970s.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at