India: Anti-Corruption Fight Goes Political!
It was possibly the biggest movement to rock India after Independence. With unprecedented support for the cause the anti-corruption fight started by social activist Anna Hazare in April, 2011 transformed into a mass movement. But the huge success of the movement signaled its downfall too. Thanks to a variety of reasons including contradictions, counter charges and friction within Team Anna and core members’ political ambitions mass support for the movement has been dwindling all the time. Seemingly running out options the movement finally became political.
Falling back on its oft-repeated ‘fast’ weapon Team Anna started yet another indefinite fast in New Delhi from July 25, 2012. For a change this time, the core members of the team sat into the fast first with Anna Hazare threatening to join in by Sunday, the 29th of July, if the government did not respond till then. Eventually Anna had to join in.
Support for the fast was not even in hundreds in the early days. Sensing trouble, Baba Ramdev with whom Anna formed an alliance to carry forward the fight for a larger cause only recently, descended on the ground with around three thousand of his supporters. Finally crowds were visible, but many criticized the Baba for hijacking the movement. And, most importantly, the discordant notes were only too perceptible.
Just before launching the fast core Team Anna members raised the pitch for their demand to investigate 15 ministers of the government of India including the Prime Minister and even the newly elected President Pranab Mukherjee for charges of corruption that they said could be proved with the evidence they had. Anna Hazare did not corroborate this particular demand and stuck to his traditional demand for a strong anti-corruption Bill. He even congratulated the new President, and Baba Ramdev created more friction by saying that names of supreme personalities like the President should not be taken during protests.
Total disarray and non-existent support naturally did not inspire the government to respond in a positive way. The local police only warned Team Anna to end the fast or hospitalize the members whose health had deteriorated. Arvind Kejriwal, a core member whose condition became worrisome due to diabetes, chose to oppose vehemently any attempt by the police to evict them forcibly to hospitals and announced the Team’s decision to continue the fast. The stalemate continued.Continued on the next page