Fighting corruption

Untimely death of a Peoples’ Movement



What could have been a peoples’ crusade against corruption has unfortunately transformed into a purely NGO pursuit. Despite having a person of the stature of Anna Hazare on its board, it is a matter of serious conjecture why Indian Against Corruption could not provide a definite character and dimension as well dynamics to the Anti Corruption movement? The only feasible explanation could be, these people failed to comprehend and understand the psyche of the common Indian and also identify and chalk out the strategy for inclusive approach.  Their lack of imagination and perception was manifest in their demand for creation of Lokpal Bill. Their approach was not in conformity to the Gandhian line on means and motto. 
It cannot be denied that their inability to understand both, the lateral and vertical impact of corruption and also failure to access the hegemonistic implication of it on the lives of the common people and the nation proved to be a significant regressive factor in its expansion and acquiring a class character. What was most unfortunate was that the activists tried to build the superstructure of the crusade on the back of the middle class for whom corruption has lost relevance, significance and is only used as a palaver to ease in the drawing room discussions. At no stage attempts were made to broad base the movement in inducting the 70 per cent of the rural poor.
Arvind Kejriwal and his comrades of India Against Corruption (IAC) have been from the beginning identifying politicians with the country, as was done by the Congress chief D K Barooah in seventies when he equated Indira Gandhi with India.  They forgot that the politicians were mere functionaries for running the government. In fact these people were suffering with syndrome to look at the politicians as their being the destiny of India. Had it not been the case, the movement might have expanded and brought in younger blood. But this did not happen. The fact cannot be denied that the movement against corruption failed to evoke a significant response through out the country. It was more in Delhi probably for the reason that the most of the activists were from this place.
Their latest targets were Salman Khurshid, Nitisn Gadkari and Robert Vadra. Did they succeed in their mission? They may feel at raising a bogey against these people. But in the end, nothing tangible could be achieved. On the contrary Khurshid has been promoted, the BJP leaders like L K Advani and Sushama Swaraj have thrown their weight behind Gadkari and Vadra stands exonerated. What message these developments send? The political establishment of the country treats these people with contempt. They are not scared of their movement. A movement is always launched on ideological precinct. It is a known fact this movement lacked this and was primarily based on the opposition to the politicians.
In fact motto of opposition primarily aims at boosting the image of the individual fighter. It in no way helps the greater cause. Kejriwal does not possess that kind of ideological acumen which helps a leader to analyse the socio-economic as well cultural constituents of the society, establish a direct talk with the people and evolve a correct politico-agitation path.  In fact his  actions made it abundantly clear that his strategy has been to achieve name and fame and one day join the ranks of the established politicians. In fact Anna too had an insight of his moves and interesting parted his company on the issue of contesting elections. If at all Kejriwal was sincere he should have kept aside the issue of participating in the elections and  persuaded Anna to lead the movement for creation of Lokpal Bill. In fact his targeting the political leaders is the pure mechanism to gain fame and improve the visibility quotient in the public which help in future elections to enter into either the Assembly or Loksabha.   
Kejriwal’s style of functioning also makes it clear that he has not been a serious student of history. Else he must have taken some lessons from the battles fought against corruption. Any person who aspires to wedge a war against corruption must be aware of the political history of Jay Prakash Narayan movement or Bihar movement of 1974. JP movement was launched against corruption of Indira Gandhi; the top political figure not against any second rank leader. In those days these numbers of TV Channels were not available to communicate with the people. It was the strong ideological content of the movement that enthused the people in every nook and corner of the country to participate. Probably this was the longest movement; from 1974 to 1977, of course short than Assam movement. But it is a bare fact that this movement also failed to curb and contain corruption. The political leaders who came out of the JP movement, in later days, were found to be deep involved in corruption. This was the period when criminals riding on the shoulders of these leaders entered into politics, They were no more pariah. The primary reason for this development was the movement could not furnish the alternate ideology for fighting corruption and maintaining accounting in public life.                 
In the post Independent period politicians and bureaucrats were also found to be involved in corrupt practices. But one thing was quite visible; they abhorred of the visibility factor. They always hide them from the public glare. But in present days this has turned to be an entity-index.  The clout of the politician is evaluated and judged from his ability to collect money and keep criminals as hangers around him.          
The proponents of the present movement ironically never took challenge of corruption seriously. They were for drawing room solution to this vexed issue. They imitated IPTA style of holding nukkad natak, but never tried to associate the rural poor with the struggle. The reason was the class antagonism. The failure of the movement to spread in the rural areas owes to this class separation. It is a matter of fact that the movement though launched in April 2011, has failed to have any impact in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal or even in western states. They must introspect, before blaming others as a tactics to pass the buck. The hit-and-run tactics of Kejriwal and holding trial by the media would lead no where. There is a general perception that IAC leaders are paper tigers and have been using media to their advantage. They even did not stand by the side of an honest IAS officer when he was trying to catch the bull by its horns. There is no denying the fact that Kejriwal actually has been helping corrupt politicians.
No doubt the IAC has succeeded in capturing urban imagination largely because the people have been denied justice and fair play. Rampant corruption and nepotism has added force to their campaign. By showing his no trust in the government agencies he was titillating peoples psyche and feeling instead of preparing them for a longer struggle. 
Basically this was the reason that Anna Hazare on refused to defend Kejriwal; "I won't protect Kejriwal on allegations made by (Congress leader) Digvijay (Singh). I will support him if he fights election against a corrupt person". Anna even questioned the personal integrity of Kejriwal; "Kejriwal did not reply my five questions including on funding of the new political outfit and identifying the candidates."

(The writer is a senior journalist and research fellow from Patna writing for Greater Kashmir. Feedback at

Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST

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