What began as a crusade against corruption appears to have rapidly deteriorated into a made-for-television reality show that simply keeps on giving. Juxtapose, if you will, those images of vociferous protesters in Anna Hazare masks at Ramlila Maidan not long ago with the current slew of news reports covering everything from incidents of slipper-throwing to allegations of inflated bills.
Earlier this week, two activists on Team Anna's 25-member India Against Corruption committee quit. They blamed their team's campaigning in a by-election for their decision. Politics, they pointed out, was never their raison d' tre. In fact, it was the opposite of what a supposedly non-partisan group ought to have done.
Then came a slipper aimed at Arvind Kejriwal, followed by the Prashant Bhushan episode where he was attacked for comments supporting a plebiscite for Kashmir. Not long after those scenes were replayed on television screens ad nauseum for the benefit of those not present in the advocate's chambers, came reports questioning another core member. This time, there were issues raised about Kiran Bedi billing organisations for airfare in order to fund her charity.
For now, Arvind Kejriwal has accused the central government of trying to tarnish the image of Team Anna in order to weaken the movement. An attempt to attack members has also reportedly been foiled in Meerut, where police have arrested 10 people. These allegations, counter-allegations and public airings of dirty linen are all a far cry from what many believed was a focused, concerted effort to eradicate one of modern India's most challenging and deep-rooted problems.
What no one appears to have asked is what happens to the people -- the 'Janata', as it were, of the Jan Lokpal Bill? An answer could take a while.
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