Team Anna likes the limelight

Published: Dec 21, 2011, 07:35 IST | Ranjona Banerji |

There can now be very little doubt that Anna Hazare and his followers are not remotely interested in either compromise or dialogue.

There can now be very little doubt that Anna Hazare and his followers are not remotely interested in either compromise or dialogue. They believe that they have drafted the perfect version of the Lokpal Bill and anyone who does not agree with them is by implication corrupt, stupid, anti-national, evil, or perhaps all of these.

Besides, they are all set to start their next round of fasts and agitations and are in no mood to give that up just because the government and some politicians are veering round to their point of view on some issues.

Call their bluff: If the government introduced Team Anna's version 
of the Lokpal Bill, the team would possibly find frivolous reasons to 
object to it, so that they can get more attention 

Agreement is not what they want. They want to stay in the public eye and get as much limelight as they can for themselves. If the government called their bluff and introduced their version of the Lokpal Bill, you can rest assured that they would object to the quality of the paper and the colour of the ink.

The sort of implacable certitude that Anna Hazare and his followers exude is astounding and admirable to the extent that they are so unaware that there is a slightest chance that they may be wrong. The possibility that they may have erred here or there is unacceptable to them. These are perfect people; they never make mistakes and, by the sanctity of their intentions, they have sanctified themselves.

Shame on those who try and point out that some may have acquired land under some dodgy government scheme, others may not have paid their tax dues and even others may have fudged their travel bills. And double shame on those who may find their mentor's authoritarian methods a trifle extreme. Can you possibly doubt anyone who wants to rid the government of corruption? If you do, it is undoubtedly because you are corrupt yourself.

And now, as preparations are on for the circus to hit Mumbai, we are in the throes of a discussion over the Central Bureau of Investigation. After months of being told that the Prime Minister and the lower bureaucracy were the crux of this magical Jan Lokpal Bill, we now discover it was all about control of the CBI. This CBI is a peculiar bird which is sometimes loved and sometimes hated, usually at the same time. 

When its investigations suit me, it is a strong investigative agency, and when its conclusions don't, it is a puppet in the hands of the government. I don't want to be flippant but why would anyone want this suspect CBI to be the torch bearer of anti-corruption? Why not a separate agency under the Lokpal to investigate corruption? And what happens to all the murders, rapes and riots which the CBI investigates? Do those also come under the Lokpal?

Meanwhile, we mustn't trust anyone except Hazare and his friends. How will the country run? A dictatorship by Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan is not acceptable to me -- am I in a minority of one? 
If Hazare wants to control our lives, let him fight an election. Claiming popular support by dancing flash mobs is not yet a legal way to come to power. 

The public mood is definitely in favour of a Lokpal Bill. But by refusing to allow anyone else's point of view -- even that of fellow NGOs -- the Anna Hazare movement has exposed itself into a recalcitrant outfit with shades of fascism. Helped along by a hysterical electronic media, Hazare and his cohorts have taken on larger proportions than their abilities suggest and are trying to browbeat us. If nothing about the Lokpal is under government control, who controls it? TV anchors and self-appointed guardians? Now that's a truly terrifying prospect.

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on twitter @ranjona

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