It's Government vs country now!
The ever increasing divide between the Government and the Civil Society is bound to undo the country's achievements. Sadly, neither of the three - the Government, the Civil Society Representatives and the Opposition can escape responsibility for this colossal mess.
From Anna Hazare's fast in April which led to Civil Society representatives being incorporated into the Drafting Committee of the Lokpal Bill, to the vituperative outbursts which both sides have lately been indulging in, time indeed has come a full circle in a span of just two months. Any consensus between the two sides appears unlikely; Anna is determined to embark on another fast; the government remains as indifferent while the Opposition has been relegated to being a mere spectator in the entire drama. The present situation of hopelessness has all the ingredients of snowballing into a law and order problem. The government itself is capable of triggering off such an eventuality if it again chooses to act in haste as it did in the case of Baba Ramdev. As for the protestors, it may not be too long before they answer one of Gandhi's calling: "Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless or corrupt."
There are two previous occasions when independent India has had to grapple with such despondency. The first was in the mid-seventies in the run-up to and during Emergency. The second was in 1990 when the agitation against the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations coincided with the Ayodhya movement leading to chaos and anarchy. Fortunately In the last two decades since, India has made massive progress as an economic power. However, the present situation threatens to undo India's achievements by taking her back a few decades.
Just who is responsible for this mess?
A fair assessment of the situation would reveal that all three - the Government, the Civil Society representatives and the Opposition are to blame for the present imbroglio, the biggest culprit of course being the government and the Congress party whose incompetence is indescribable.
Previously it was just the case of an invisible PM. Now Sonia and Rahul Gandhi too disappear in crisis situations. Instead, an ever-disgruntled Digvijaya Singh is fielded to spew venom on one and all, further aggravating a crisis. That nobody representing the government is willing to own up responsibility for the police action against Ramdev and his supporters shows how dubious and cowardly this government is. No wonder then that despite the media providing evidence of China tampering with the Brahmaputra river, our External Affairs Minister looks the other way and instead misleads the nation.
Just a month back, Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh had led a tirade against Mayavati accusing her government of killing a large number of farmers. The accusation, as we were to discover soon, was a blatant lie. Rahul had said then, "I feel ashamed to call myself Indian." Well given his own track record of running away from responsibilities, I doubt if he has given the country any reason to feel proud of him.
No wonder then that this rudderless government created a situation that allowed the Civil Society to dictate terms to it.
The Civil Society Representatives' approach is not without its share of flaws. For one, as I've mentioned in one of my previous articles, Anna and his team members must mull over joining the political process. Having usurped the Opposition space, it will be a tragedy if the UPA were to emerge stronger at the hustings. Anna's role today can be equated in some ways to the one played by Jai Prakash Narayan in the early and mid-seventies, except for one crucial difference. JP had shunned political positions but not politics per se. So when he fought the government in the 70s, he knew that the battle would be won only by installing its alternative. JP thus was instrumental in weaving together the coalition called Janta Party that threw the then government out of power.
On the other hand, Anna's intense dislike for the entire political ilk is so pronounced that it carries greater potential of causing deadlock situations than finding solutions. If Anna does not join the political process himself, he must mull over supporting a political alliance than can overthrow this corrupt government. Or else a situation may soon arise when Anna's team is accused of wielding authority without responsibility - something Sonia Gandhi has so far been happy doing. Besides, a true Gandhian would much rather execute one of Gandhi's strongest beliefs -"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
The Opposition too needs to ponder about how the Civil Society managed to outsmart it so easily. Fact remains that while the BJP has managed to put the government on the mat inside the Parliament, the party couldn't create the same impact among the masses. As the recent agitations by Anna and Ramdev have shown, Indians still love the semblance of sacrifice and renunciation. They have reinstated the importance of the Gandhian device of hunger strike. The very idea that someone is prepared to die for the country draws instant support. All said and done, the BJP is yet to revive that connect with the masses that can bring it back to power. Maybe it should mull over countrywide 'yatras'. After all, it was Advani's umpteen 'yatras' that had eventually turned the tide in NDA's favour in the mid and late nineties. The key for the BJP is to go back to the basics in connecting with the masses before it looses another opportunity.
More about Tuhin A SinhaTuhin A Sinha is among the best-selling authors in India, a columnist and a screenwriter. Starting in 2006 with his first book, That Thing Called Love, an unconventional romance set in a Mumbai monsoon, Tuhin has written five novels. They include The Captain (formerly 22 Yards), Of Love And Politics, The Edge of Desire and The Edge Of Power. Tuhin is acknowledged among the most prolific Indian writers with a maverick knack to experiment with new genres. While his first book was an offbeat romance, The Captain was a cricket thriller that explored the underbelly of modern cricket. Of Love And Politics was a political thriller. His last two books which comprise the Edge series can be called socio-political thrillers with a strong feminist skew. Tuhin is a screenwriter of several popular TV shows, the most noteworthy being Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus. Apart from his fiction novels and scripts, Tuhin is a keen political observer. His columns on Indian politics appear regularly in India’s leading dailies. Tuhin has a regular blog on ibnlive.com. He also appears frequently on news channels on discussions around politics and cricket.
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