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 Rohit Khilnani
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 08 : 50

Heads Anna wins, tails Government loses


Anna Hazare's fight against corruption is now a full blown mass movement. The country is with him and he knows that! From school and college students to members of the civil society, from Bollywood stars, business tycoons to the socialites every one has invited themselves to Anna's party. Check out the twitter trends. 1) Anna 2) Lokpal, 3) Kiran Bedi and even 4) Tihar Jail made it to the most talked about topics in the social media.

Supporters of the anti corruption crusader gathered across the nation. Be it the national capital, business capital or even cities like Patna, Ahemdabad, Pune, Lucknow everywhere Anna was the talk of the town. But this blog is not about what he is doing right or what the government is doing wrong. This is about the large gatherings and thousands of supporters. I am wondering who these people are and where they are coming from?

Let me make it clear that personally I am not a supporter of the government nor am I convinced with Anna's my-way-or-the-highway attitude. This government has taken enough money from me in taxes and more with rising prices, interest rates etc. No doubt it's great that at least some one like Anna is standing up and fighting corruption. His movement deserves all the motivation and encouragement.

But wonder what it is about this man dressed in simple white clothes and a topi that has got almost every one and their families out on the streets. Not just on the streets, some even told their families that they may go to jail after the protests and their families supported them. When was the last time parents gave a go ahead to their kids to go to jail?

Do these people support the Lokpal Bill or just Anna Hazare? Do they understand where the Lokpal bill is stuck and why it has not been passed since 1969? Do they really know the consequences (good or bad) if the judiciary and the Prime Minister fall under the Lokpal? Or come on, accept it ! Is it just plain fun to be part of a mass movement that goes against the ruling party? Is it just 'cool' to support Anna?

This generation has not seen Gandhi. They have only heard about him, read about him and seen movies made on the Mahatma. From our grandparents we heard stories about how every one was a part of the freedom struggle in some way or the other. Some stuck posters, some shouted slogans and some even got beaten up by the police. And now believe it or not for the first time we all have the opportunity to be a part of a mass movement that may go down in history. For my generation we saw something similar to this in Aamir Khan starrer Rang De Basanti. The scenes where people protested with candles at India Gate and then cops charging with lathis, some of them bleeding but refusing to get up and leave the protest. These scenes sent shivers down our spine. And now guess what? We are getting to do that in real life! If this is what it is then it's not right to support a person who wants an important bill passed, a bill that covers many serious issues.

As seen in pictures across newspapers the Aam Aadmi is very much a part of the protests, shouting slogans, fighting his way to be on camera to voice his opinion. Clearly they are the ones dealing with price rice, taxes, potholes, corruption, long queues and sometimes left with no option but to pay bribes at hospitals and police stations. When one is stuck at any of these places with no backing they just do whatever it takes to get out of it, be it giving a small bribe to a constable. Is that also reason enough to support Anna Hazare? Yes, the Aam Aadmi may be totally fed up by the government but then does Anna become their God? Clearly there is no strong opposition in this country hence the only door to run to is Anna's. If Anna has raised all these issues the BJP could have done that too, but the petty and daily politics doesn't give them time to think out of the box so all they can also do is piggy back on Anna and slam the government.

I have some 75 contacts on my blackberry and now most my friends have Anna's smiling face as their display picture and since they are my friends I know who is supporting the real cause and who is being part of the fad! If there was an option of 'Delete Anna's photo' I would lose half my friends on BlackBerry Messenger.

We all must support Anna Hazare and every anti corruption crusader now and in the future but only if we understand what exactly they are fighting for. Crusaders, not God, they are people like you and me and hence they too can have unreasonable demands at times. Sit down, read up and think when Anna says, "It is either my way or I fast unto death!" Is it a fair threat? Also think about why the government is not giving in after receiving so much flak, they could have a reason or two. Your crusader may look like Gandhi, behave like one but, is he? That's the real question!

Yes this government clearly didn't know how to handle things on August 16th 2011. May be they thought they would do a Baba Ramdev on Anna and he too might jump off the stage and dress like a woman and try to vanish in the crowd but clearly Anna is far more experienced in handling such situations and does know what he is doing. He is not some Yoga guru turned crusader! And now the kind of people's support he's garnered, the media attention and the government's sloppy response, must have surely given him an added boost to carry on his fight.

So the next time you see some one heading for Anna's protest ask them a question or two on the Lokpal bill and their reason to support it. You may get your answer on how Anna manages thousands of people every time. This is a country where a snake charmer can gather a crowd of fifty within minutes.

The end of this game may not be closer but it was advantage Anna from the time it started and this time he is carrying the Sholay coin which has heads on both sides!


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