On the morning of August 15, when Prime Minister braving the incessant downpour briskly climbed up the ramparts of the Red fort, his mind was obviously occupied by the issue of probity in public life. No wonder he spent nearly one third of his address on the issue of corruption and tried to convince the country he and his government was serious in tackling it. Though how convinced the people of this country are, is a moot point.
24 hours later, Dr.Manmohan Singh and his government and also by association, the Congress party, was battling not only the issue of corruption, but also had acquired the dubious tag of being “autocratic, repressive and dictatorial”, by its mindless act of arresting the civil society activists, led by Kisan Baburao Hazare(alias Anna Hazare). They had nodescription else to blame for adding to the nation’s conscience the issue of “democracy under threat” to the already full blown frustration about corruption.
The somersault 12 hours later by withdrawing all charges and allowing Hazare and company to be released from Tihar Jail also backfired badly, as the old man refused to budge, until he was released unconditionally and allowed to fast as planned. The bungling Government had no other option but to succumb to it also. But he put more conditions. In the bargain, in 24 hours, the UPA Government had turned Hazare from an anti-corruption activist to a “savior of democracy”!
The Government evidently had no idea or refused to admit to itself, the extent of dismay and frustration among the people about what is perceived as all-pervading corruption, when it asked the Delhi police to lay down unprecedented conditions for undertaking a fast by Hazare and his group. Of course, there is some substance to the argument that when a legislation is the property of the House, the best way is to take recourse to the mandated and well established parliamentary procedures to put across your point, and not resort to fast unto death and other such tactics.
In fact the Government and its supporters have a strong proponent of their point of view. None other than the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar. In his stirring concluding address to the Constituent Assembly, before it adopted the newly written Indian Constitution on Nov.25,1949, the great man made these remarks, which has abundant significance in the present context. He said:
“If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us”.
However the advice of Dr.Ambedkar has gone un-heeded all these years, and Hazare and his lot have also shown utter disdain, especially when they have insisted that the Lok Pal Bill should be what they think it should be and nothing less. And based on this adamant (almost bordering on a childish tantrum ) stand, Hazare and company have sought to impose their views on the Parliament and millions of people who don’t agree with his views. The methods that Dr.Ambedkar above refers to as the “grammar of anarchy”.
It is important to mention here that the Jan Lok Pal Bill cannot be the ultimate, as there are equally eminent people including jurists and lawyers of the stature of former Chief Justices of India, J.S.Verma and M.N.Venkatachalaiah, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A.P.Shah, Soli Sorabjee, Harish Salve, former Lok Sabha Speakers Somnath Chatterjee and P.A.Sangma and distinguished social activist Aruna Roy, to name a few, who have differences on key issues in it. All of the above named, don’t think either the judiciary or the Prime Minister should come within the ambit of the Lok Pal. So for Hazare and his cohorts to say that those who are opposed to their idea are supporters of corruption, is appalling and completely authoritarian. One is reminded of the infamous statement of George Bush, the former President of United States, when he said, “if you are not with us, you are against us”.
Unfortunately, these key issues that need discussion and wider consultation have been relegated to the background by the completely tactless approach of the UPA Government, in trying to muffle Hazare. In the bargain, they have managed to bestow on Hazare the halo of a warrior for “democratic values”, when his track record as a democrat itself has been under serious suspicion. His former colleagues and fellow travellers confirm it. Please watch this video to understand why there are such suspicions about him (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD7fCRY7J94), if any proof is necessary after his unyielding “me and only my bill” attitude he has adopted.
However, that the UPA Government has been found woefully inadequate in convincing the people about its intentions, even after it has brought the Bill to the Parliament, as Hazare had demanded earlier, is due to the complete lack of understanding of the processes of democracy. The top decision-makers in the Government and the Congress party, who have brought the situation to this sorry state of affairs are all very articulate lawyers, alright. But it is apparent from the way they have bungled along, from first ignoring Hazare’s fast, then serenading him by forming the joint committee without any opposition members in it, later sucking up to Ramdev only to conduct a midnight raid on his camp, and now abusing Hazare and later arresting him and releasing him, and yet getting stuck, are all clear indications of a thinking process which has no understanding of the political processes in a democracy.