Us vs Them: Where Anna scored heavily

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 07, 2011 04:45 hrs

During the whole Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement, a few important questions remain to be answered.

Did even a fraction of the protestors read and understand the Jan Lokpal Bill?

Did a majority of the couch potato supporters understand the relevance of the three points that the Parliament agreed to, which led to the calling off of the fast?

Did the Parliament give Anna a lemon or was it a turning point in the history of people power vis a vis Parliament?

The answers to all these questions could be slightly embarrassing for staunch members of the movement. One has serious doubts about the masses understanding of all the minute technicalities.

So it is well possible that most of the protestors were just out there to have their voice heard and were frustrated with the total detachment of the political classes from the masses.

For them it was just a fortnight-long "Let off steam against the politicians festival".

For days on end, the people of India saw the government make one mistake after another; hurtle from one disaster to another as they tried to placate a 74-year-old bachelor. He was not a powerful politician. He was not a Forbes billionaire. He was even someone relatively unknown outside his home state of Maharashtra till a few months ago.

And yet the entire political class seemed to be bending to him. "Anna versus Government" was a popular TV catchphrase.

Ultimately, the Parliament showed a great amount of unanimity and heeded the voice of the people maybe for the first time in such a manner after Independence.

It ends there.

For millions that was enough. If they think that they have won, then they have.

When one looks at it that way, then the movement was a roaring success.

Beyond that the technicalities are for the TV anchors, analysts and intellectuals to discuss and not for the common man.

The Two Indias...

For all their bluster, the politicians of India must have seen it as a defeat. While they look brave in front of the TV cameras, one wonders if they are that sure in the quietness of their homes.

Everyone talks of two Indias.

One India is a fast growing economy which is aiming to be a superpower in its own right. The second India is barely managing to make ends meet.

Similarly there are two political spaces in India.

One in which the politicians live. It's one of power and isolation. It's one where anyone can continue being in office without a second thought despite having umpteen corruption or murder charges.

It's one of the privileged "us" (elected citizens of India) versus the common "them" (unelected citizens of India).

The second world is out there in the Indian streets and living rooms. Politicians have absolutely no respect whatsoever and are by and large are seen as a corrupt and opportunist class. They are heavily criticized in conversations and lampooned freely in social networking sites.

While professional India has marched forward in almost all the possible fields, politics by and large is still an unprofessional business full of dynasties and chargesheeted representatives.

The arrogance and denial of the politicians was brought to the fore during the whole movement.

That explains the ruling government making decisions which could have been bettered even by a political science student.

Backed by the RSS. One man only. Parliament is supreme. It's a decision of the Delhi Police...

Denial makes you do strange things.

Even on the day of the debate, the show of compromise and solidarity was only in the first half.

In the second half Sharad Yadav blustered against Kiran Bedi in a manner that definitely didn’t befit his August office. He talked of himself being a "man of the street" without realizing that lakhs of people were protesting against "them" all over India on the streets at that very moment.

Laloo Prasad Yadav quoted his Supreme Court acquittal in the fodder case without even thinking for a minute what his all-India image was.

The Breach of Privilege motion against Om Puri and Kiran Bedi has been equally baffling.

If one scoured the Internet for similar videos, lampooning cartoons and photos along with critical write-ups in cyberspace, then thousands would find themselves sharing the fate of Puri and Bedi!

The modern day Gandhi...

So is Anna like Gandhi or not? This question too seems irrelevant.

In some respects Anna is just like Gandhi and in other respects, he is just the opposite.

No matter, a new millennium icon has already been created.

Everyone has read about Gandhi in books. But today more have seen Anna in the flesh and blood.

A 12-day fast with 24-hour TV coverage beats a 21-day one in history books any day.

It is said that an ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.

One must say that Team Anna has left with a pound of image (and an ounce of performance, some detractors might be tempted to add!)

Also Read:  Why any kind of Lokpal is necessary

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