Anti-corruption campaigner Kisan "Anna" Hazare's supporters -- the so-named India Against Corruption organisation -- met on Saturday to reconstitute its core committee.
That the core committee decided to retain the team despite allegations of financial malfeasance speaks volumes of the values of the IAC members.
Compared to the fight "Team Anna" are up against, the allegations against them are minuscule. Arvind Kejriwal, the head of IAC, has tax dues against him to the tune of Rs 9 lakh, while Kiran Bedi, a former top police officer who has had a squeaky clean image so far, was exposed by the media of inflating airline vouchers billed to NGOs that invited her.
But the issue here is not the volume of corruption. Once you have crossed the thin red line, there's no turning back. There cannot be grades of corruption, and there cannot be a situation where one says, "My corruption is of much lower value than yours, therefore I have moral superiority over you."
Both Kejriwal and Bedi seem to be saying this. And both their defences are weak. Bedi went to the extent of blaming her travel agent and announced to the world that her travel agent would refund the money. The travel agent resigned in disgust.
The trouble with anti-corruption campaigns in India could well be this: Maybe there is no 'clean' person at all. Even Hazare, who has been a grassroots social reformer for decades, and whose integrity has, so far, been untainted despite allegations, has such wild ideas about punishing the guilty in this country (for example, he wants corrupt people to be flogged in public) that he stands the risk of becoming a laughing stock.
There is no denying that Hazare's intentions are noble, and his cause just. But he would have to quickly decide whether the soldiers he is taking along to battle the system are the right ones.
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