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Ongoing confrontation between the Government and everybody else over corruption – who will win ?




The last few days have seen major events happening in India, events that could herald major changes in how India allows its citizens to express its opinions. They have also exposed a Government that is so weighted down by corruption that it is like a rubber band that has been pushed down and down, and is now trying to rebound back; but whether it will break or get into a normal position is the ultimate question.
To some extent, the Government faced a major confrontation when it came against Anna Hazare. Here was a small time protester who had made some waves in Maharasthra, but had no major national standing, and here was this party that had taken a few blows due to corruption scandals but had also won re-election with an enhanced number of seats just 2 years back and had drawn equal in the recent state elections. So, the Government decided to ignore Anna Hazare – this however was the opposite of what the average citizen felt. The average citizen was somewhat used to low level corruption (paying the local policeman or the local municipal worker was easy), but when it came to the huge numbers and obvious corruption at the level of ministers, the resentment started building up. People started associating with Anna’s campaign, and then the Government decided that the normal committee strategy would work; play along and then later when the momentum had died down, thwart the plan and do what they want.

And then the Government came to another challenge. Baba Ramdev may have been irked with the support that Anna got and which he felt that he deserved, but the Government felt that it could try and do a deal with him, and gave him an important public relations boost by sending the top cream of ministers to meet with him at the airport and then at a hotel. If you had heard the press conference by Kapil Sibal, what he essentially stated that was they would treat the Baba the same way, that is, defeat him through committees, that would propose laws that would die in parliament. At the same time, the Baba was also advised by the members of the Lokpal committee (who had come to realize by then the Government plan of defeating them through red-tape and delay, in order to get a Lokpal Bill that was far weaker than what they had desired); as a result, and maybe because he had some ideas of exploring the fast for a couple of days till he managed to get far more public support, he decided to not agree to what the Government wanted.
The Government is arrogant in its power, and decided that enough was enough, and kicked Baba Ramdev out. They did not do the careful planning which would have shown them that they effectively lost a huge amount of public opinion by seeming to attack normal citizens on a peaceful protest who were sleeping at night. Even those who were doubtful of Baba Ramdev immediately swung over to his side and criticized the Government. Also, by trying to blame everything on the RSS, the Government was trying to get secular opinion on their side, but are ending up as a group of paranoid people. Further, by sending out Kapil Sibal as one defender and Digvijay Singh as the other defender, the Government is almost doing a self goal. Kapil Sibal is now seen as a weasel forked-mouth kind of lawyer, not one who you use outside of a courtroom (people are not convinced as much by logic as much as they are convinced by a person seeming to be right), and Digvijay by so many of his lunatic comments had turned off a sizable chunk of the population (who calls Bin Laden as Ladenji).
Now, they are faced with a man (Baba Ramdev) whose motives are still suspect to a number of people, but who has declared war on the Government, and if he can remain sane (not trying to call for an army with guns), he can bring about many disaffected sections against the Government. When the Government deploys Digvijay Singh against him (who also refused to link the Congress with some of the actions of the Government), you can be sure that whether Ramdev loses or not, the Government will lose public opinion.
And to the other section, that is Anna Hazare and his folks, who command huge respect with the citizenry (even if they do not understand everything that these people are fighting for); they have seen that the Government can defend its position in multiple ways, and also know that the Government believes that their bargaining position is now suspect (the April fast was 2 months ago after all). They also feel that it will take more than a few meetings to get the Government to change its position (any change in the Government position will be seen as a buckling down now, with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi enforcing a stronger position of the Government – also seen as being more arrogant). And you can see the next steps – Anna Hazare has already called for a resumption of the fast by August 15th if it seen that the Government is not serious. One does not expect that the Government will do anything.
Manmohan Singh has been called politically as one of the weakest PM’s, but he was supposed to have personal honesty and integrity – this has now been effectively debunked, somebody who allows this level of corruption is equally responsible and should bear the same punishment. It is like, you scratch any policy by the Government, and you can find the stench of corruption. All it took was some investigation against Maran, and you find him involved in a case where he forced a businessman to sell his company and then granted favors to the bought company, and then the buying company invested money in his brother’s company. With this Government, you will find it involved in many more cases of corruption – sooner or later the Prime Minister will be personally accused and his veneer of honesty will be shattered – that will be a sad day for India. Can somebody already see the advent of the mid-70’s Nav Nirman Movement launched by JP ?




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