Round 3 of the India Against Corruption’s movement is happening at the historic Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, the seat of power in India. The new form of the Jan Lokpal movement was kicked off with Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and Arvind Kejriwal’s fast. It seems like a do-or-die battle for the India Against Corruption Team.
Anna’s fast enters the 5th day today and his colleagues Arvind Kejriwal, Gopal Rai and Manish Sisodia’s have been fasting for 9 days. Amid growing concern about their health, many prominent citizens including Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Gen V.K. Singh, Anupam Kher have urged Team Anna to end its fast. A group of 23 prominent citizens including General VK Singh, Justice Lydog, have also requested Anna to form a political party, an alternative political force. “The ongoing fast represents a voice of conscience…the political establishment has not cared to listen, leave alone to respond, to this voice,” the letter says, urging Anna and his associates to “form an alternative political force.”
When Anna Hazare first started getting media attention to his anti-corruption campaign, he created ripples across the political spectrum and a great ray of hope and excitement in the Indian people. The charisma of the movement and Anna Hazare was overpowering and the media danced around him in a willing chorus. Even his detractors couldn’t dent the image of the man. The anti corruption wave was so powerful that power corridors in New Delhi trembled, and engaged their most astute strategists and their best negotiators to deal with the situation. This time around lots of things have changed.
The Jan Lokpal bill and the India Against Corruption’s movement which was once the darling of the mass media is being pushed from page one politics news to page 3 gossip. There has been a systematic approach by the spin doctors employed by the Government to portray the Team Anna as a divided group, a bunch of corrupt and communal people. And the media has played their part in mocking the movement. The amount of publicity of the allegation of corruption on couple of air tickets by Kiran Bedi which in all probability (if it is at all true) would amount to a few thousand rupees was not proportionate the 2 Lakh Crore coal scam or the 1.7 Lakh 2G scam.
Branding the current phase of the movement as a flop show by the media was probably a big risk by the mass media or paid media as termed by the Twitter crowd. There were at least 5000-6000 people sitting in front of the podium where Anna and other members are sitting. And roughly 3000-4000 people visit the movement every hour. These are the floating members. About 500-600 dedicated India Against Corruption workers were resting in the park besides Jantar Mantar. That’s not all, about 5 to 6 groups of 50 people were busy in sloganeering in the streets around Jantar Mantar. That’s around 10,000 people at any hour. While I am drafting this article, Team Anna has decided to call off the fast and probably create a political alternative in the country.
There is an urgent need for wider reflection on what ails the country and our system. Creating a political alternative in the country is a welcome decision. Has Team Anna been forced to opt for this alternative? A great movement now appears helpless – politics seems to be unforgiving to everyone except the professional politician. It is important to retrospect how a non violent movement can sustain against the media and professional politicians? As citizens and stakeholders of the country, we too need to reflect how we can make a difference.