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Conflict between Government side and Anna Hazare increases – what next ?




The tension between the Government side and the Anna Hazare movement is getting pretty tense now. Anna Hazare is now on his 9th day of his fast, and he does not look like breaking it soon. For the past 36 hours, it seemed like the Government was under pressure to back down quickly; they were looking out of whack, not able to make clear statements except repeating the following items: “Parliamentary procedures”, “subversion of democracy”, “blackmail tactics”, and so on. Now, there is some truth in what the Government is claiming, particularly the part about blackmail. However, I don’t agree with the other aspects where the Government claims that all these pressure tactics are a subversion of democracy and the power of Parliament. It is the right of every individual to try and influence laws that they believe are bad in law or invalid. Now, people protest and go on fast every day in this large country, but the Government does not dismiss such protests as subversion and all that. The reason for the Government trying to project this as a fight between Parliament and Anna’s team is because of the massive voluntary public mobilization that has happened, where people are seeing this as a fight for their rights against the huge amount of corruption that is plaguing the country.

I repeat, it is the right of people to try and influence the passage of laws in Parliament, and it is upto the Government not to feel pressured by such tactics; and we all know that the Government is feeling the mass of public pressure. Once in a while, every Government feels the might of the public, especially when the Government is seem as out of touch of people, and full of corruption and scams. The weight of corruption weighs heavily on the Government and the Congress party right now (and to some extent that of other parties as well, as I will explain shortly); it is trying to use different tactics and delaying tactics to try and wear down the agitation; after all, it is now 9 days since Anna is on fast (the Government must be thinking about how long it will take to get him to hospital and evict the protesters from Ramlila Maidan).
Now, why is the Government digging in its feet ? It is the fundamental part of the ask to get the lower bureaucracy into the Lokpal and to get a law that entitles citizens to get service from the Government. This is a demand that the Government and other parties cannot afford to let happen. So, the Government claims that this will create an unnecessary Lokpal bureaucracy of thousands of officials in order to investigate all the claims of corruption. Now, the tacit admission by the Government that corruption is so wide-spread that it will required thousands of investigators is itself so painful; and then the Prime Minister claims that there is no magic bullet to solve this corruption that hits everybody (rare will be the person who has not come across a demand for a bribe).
It is this level of corruption (at different levels of Government) that provides the money to political parties for their survival, for the patronage politics that the political parties run, and which attracts people. When you see the fights between politicians for their chairmanships of committees, or for becoming ministers, it is the prospect of getting huge sums of money that attracts them, and all this is possible through the complicity of babudom at all levels. However, if the babudom starts feeling threatened by Lokpal investigations, then this cash flow to political parties and their members will reduce or become threatened, and you can now understand why the Government will fight this provision tooth and nail (including using police to crush this agitation if required).




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