The politics of incoherence

When Mahatma Gandhi utilised the concept of Satyagraha, he not only had a specific mission in mind but he also knew that the British regime would face a national upheaval if something were to happen with him. The British, therefore, had little option but to sit across the table and negotiate with him. The Mahatma, after all, was a revered figure across the country.

The same is not true of Anna Hazare, a vociferous anti-corruption activist who has used the act of fasting to get the attention of a hopelessly incompetent government and that of the public to root out graft. He has succeeded only partly, because of the incoherence of his team’s communication as well as the inability of his outfit to convince the public of what their real intentions are.

Earlier this week, the team announced that their mission will need to have “political direction”. At least, a part of the team did. For, on Friday, the incoherence began all over again with certain top members of the movement denying they will create a political party, fight elections and take on executive roles. Even if the organisation does fight elections, there seems to be little organisational competence, with each member of the team vying for public attention. And when they don’t get that, they behave like despots and take the law into their own hands, as they did by manhandling the media representatives for not giving them airtime.

While the “ends” of the mission are noble (who does not want a corruption-free country), the fact that Hazare’s people want executive roles as a “right” rather an “earned duty” is dangerous. Fortunately for India, most citizens have been able to filter the noble from the rubbish, and the support for the movement has been declining; not because Indians don’t want a corruption-free country, but because the self-styled saviours themselves do not seem to have the vision to execute this deed.

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