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The Second Stage: Unearthing Graft in High Places

October 10, 2012

It is not as if we are hard of hearing. It is just that things important to the issue are drowned in a cacophony that is the Indian media and intelligentsia.  I would stick my neck out and say that it is not as if some people in the media are not understanding what is going on around them, it is that they are too scared to tell the truth.

The former Team Anna which is now Team Kejriwal is a bunch of ‘revolutionaries’. Don’t get me wrong, they are not the kind of people who are there to change the face of the nation for better. On the contrary, here is a bunch of people who are out to change the ‘system’ inside out. To be fair to them, they have been talking about vyavastha parivartan (systemic change) for long. It is just that nobody dare ask them to elaborate as to what they mean by this phrase.
They have also been harping that they want ‘people’s democracy’ – that the people will decide on all decisions big and small. They have also rubbished the 5 year term for any political party once they are in power. They contend that once a party is in power they forget all that they had promised and do as they wish for the period that they are in office. Of course this is a mischievous argument  and shows the lack of political education that these self styled activists turned politicians have. Ask any politician worth his salt and he will tell how utterly impossible it is to be arbitrary in ones decisions. In any multi-party democracy it is the people’s welfare that is the bedrock on which politics is conducted.

Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and their men have repeatedly asked for the JanLokpl Bill to be passed. This is their panacea of a people’s movement and their answer to checking rampant graft in high places. I have written enough on this bill and do not intend to elaborate again here, suffice to say that this proposed draconian bill is one sure way to kill democracy and freedom of average Indian.

Kejriwal, Bhushan and the rest propped up Anna Hazare, a Gandhian and tried to get their way by repeated satyagraha or non-violent protest. The first few times people responded with much enthusiasm. Then the oft repeated protests lost their sheen and Kejriwal, Bhushan et al realized that they will not be able to get what they wanted, i.e., the JanLokpal Bill through protests and demonstrations. Anna had become redundant for them and they had to move on. They also realized that it is the parliament that has to pass bills and pressure from outside was just not working. The mid-night drama where one MP in the Rajya Sabha, Rajniti Prasad from RJD tore the Bill and the House was adjourned was the last nail in the coffin of the JanLokpal Bill.

It is a numbers game, they realized. The first stage of satyagraha and protests had failed and it was time to think ahead. So off with the head of the Gandhian Anna Hazare and the decision to float a political party was made post haste. Of course, Kejriwal would have looked trifle selfish and ambitious so the soundbites about their unwavering respect for the old man did the rounds and then consigned to the dust bin as indeed it was meant to be all along.

I must concede that the dogged determination of Kejriwal and his men to get the JanLokpal Bill passed is indeed amazing. But it was time to unleash the second stage of their Operation JanLokpal which meant floating a political party. They reckon that in today’s coalition politics a party with as little as 20 MP’s can swing issues and get bills passed so it was a credible idea to pursue politics so as to get the JanLokpal Bill made into law. Constant interaction with the media with a fair section therein favorably disposed towards their Left leanings gave them added hope. Their idea is to be a credible alternative to both the Congress and the BJP. They believe that with their ‘clean’ politics people will vote for them and they can give the nation a third alternative. This has raised the hackles of the Socialists and most of all the Left parties who feel that their space is being usurped. The Left parties are silent because they know that were the experiment that is the Kejriwal movement to succeed they will be accommodated. But a section among the seasoned Left political leadership is very uncomfortable with Kejriwal & Co. and find them a nuisance but have no choice but to bear silently. Kejriwal, Bhushan and others in his team have their moorings in the NCPRI (National Campaign for People’s Right to Information) a conglomeration of extreme Left group that got the right to information bill passed. Some of the NCPRI members went on to form the India Against Corruption (IAC). Another faction is in the National Advisory Council (NAC) which advises Sonia Gandhi, the UPA Chairperson. These are all from the same group and they have the same ideology which is Left leaning. No wonder the established Left parties find it hard to stand up against them, howsoever much they may want to. Left politics has few takers and after the fall of the Soviet Union their credibility is at an all time low.

The credibility quotient of Team Kejriwal will rise if they point out graft in high places. They therefore targeted Nitin Gadkari and Robert Vadra. I am not for once claiming that there is no graft anywhere and that all this is a figment of the imagination of Team Kejriwal. Of course there is graft both in the Congress and to a lesser extent in the BJP. I will also hasten to add that it is good that some of the muck in the system is coming out in the open.  But it is the motive of Team Kejriwal and their larger goal that one should not lose sight of. Give them the JanLokpal and they will disband their party today. But then the question is whether India wants to remain a democracy or not. And that is a very fundamental question and the answer is obvious.

Kejriwal and his men with some of the best legal brains have started unearthing graft. Robert Vadra is one of the first among the many they promise to bring before the nation. In the meantime their keenness to have a pro-people image saw Kejriwal asking the people of Delhi not to pay their electricity bills as the rates were too high. His contention is that power companies are making huge profits and they should have reduced the tariff  rather than increased it. As a token of his support of the people he went to some of the localities and reconnected power where the companies had disconnected due to non-payment. Remarkably the consumer was named in an FIR filed by the electricity company and not Kejriwal though he had reconnected the wires.

It is also amazing that the collusion between DLF (a prime developer) and Robert Vadra came to light a few months back and was reported in the Economic Times. The BJP wanted to raise the issue in Parliament but then decided against it. Team Kejriwal had no such hesitation and they have brought the issue in public domain without a thought. It is intriguing that a political party of the stature of the BJP is hesitating in bringing out graft and here is a motley bunch that calls a press conference at the drop of a hat and without batting an eyelid throws around insinuations against the First Family of the country. Can any private citizen even think of targeting the Gandhi Family? And the Congress is on the defensive unable to give a coherent reply while a whole battery of ministers defend the damad of the First Family in unison. The helplessness of the Congress is what is most baffling. They seem to be clueless as to how to deal with Team Anna turned Team Kejriwal. Remember Team Anna had nonchalantly put up posters of ‘corrupt politicians’ sometime back at Jantar Mantar during satyagraha and that was almost the whole of the Union Cabinet including the Prime Minister!

Team Kejriwal’s effort at shock and awe is their idea of attracting people to join them, ostensibly to clean politics but in reality to garner enough seats in the parliament such that they can dictate issues invariably veering to the all important JanLokpal Bill. The problem though is that with the kind of free hand that they enjoy, they are overdoing it. Graft is indeed an issue and that must be checked at all cost but with the departure of Anna Hazare their credibility quotient has taken a hit. They are trying to overcome this by more shock and awe and the Vadra disclosure was a step in that direction. I will not be surprised if they target the BJP next and then the smaller parties including some of the regional parties like the Samajwadi Party, the BSP, the NCP, the AIADMK and the DMK and so on. They want the people to perceive them as the saviors of the nation and the only party with credibility. Fumbling, clueless, rhetorical defense by different Congress spokespersons is the only comical aside to this numbing, deceitful onslaught on natural democratic fabric of the  nation that is India. Were the disclosures of graft in high places in normal course of democratic politics it would have seen unambiguous support from common Indian. But the muted response which may flummox Kejriwal and his men is because people are not sure of their intentions and perhaps can read them better than they reckoned they would.

Playing the savior and floating a political outfit to give a ‘clean alternative’ will also have a timeline, as it seems they invariably have. They gave satyagraha a chance and when they saw it did not work, abandoned it without a thought and have put on the garb of a messiah of the people out to clean the system. To their credit, this is a very focused lot. They know exactly where they are and what they are doing. They are also very clear of their ultimate aim and objective which is vysvastha parivartan or systemic change. But these are men who do not have all the time in the world. They will therefore unearth graft in most political outfits, which they reckon will sway the people in their favor. My guess is that they will start with some corporation elections and then move on to assembly elections. The time frame is limited and I will not be surprised if they have 2014 General Elections as the aim. They want to be able to garner enough seats to be able to have a decisive say in all major decisions and they will then demand that the JanLokpal Bill be passed.

My fear is that in their haste to get to their ultimate objective they will step on many a toes but that does not bother them in the least. What it will do is that in this hugely polarized society with fanatical zeal for their caste, regional leaders they will end up disenchanting most. Politics is a game of patience and patience is what they just don’t have. If the 2014 deadline is not met then the third stage of the ‘revolution’ will be unleashed. And that is an armed struggle. Not that it hasn’t already started. The Maoist movement in the region of Chota Nagpur is already rife with their comrades fighting the state with arms and ammunition and rhetoric. They might still profess to fighting graft but from becoming part of the political mainstream to distancing themselves from the system calling it anti-people will be the final stage. The ultras in the region of Dantewada and parts of Odisha and Jharkhand are watching these developments carefully. They would like to get to Delhi in a bloodless coup. But if that does not fructify the final assault on the state will be undertaken without any remorse.

It was when the UPAI and UPAII allowed these elements such leeway in the first place and they began calling the shots was when they could have stopped them. It is amazing how such elements have clout in the highest echelons disproportionate to their grass root support that is most baffling. Its a tug of war. In effect the Congress is fighting a Frankenstein they helped create themselves. This is bigger than Bhindranwale and LTTE and all others put together. It will require a lot of statesmanship to get this djinn back into the bottle. Or maybe just one person can do what a whole army of politicians and political parties cannot and that one person is Narendra Modi!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2012 9:10 am

    Thanks again for the article post. Will read on…

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  1. Funding Political Parties – fighting graft « Ullas Sharma's Blog

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