An article 'Protests awaken a Goliath in India' in the New York Times feels that the great Indian middle class which till recently were dismissed as apathetic towards electoral politics seems to have awakened from their slumbers and no longer appears apathetic towards politics. The article goes on to attribute this change of attitude to the Anna Hazare movement.
Indeed, the Anna Hazare movement which later became 'I am Anna' movement' saw thousands of professionals, college students, house wives from various backgrounds on to the streets waving national flags, wearing Anna caps and shouting slogans against corruption. It didn't stop there. Professionals and college students provided organizational spine and money to make it one of the most successful movements in recent times- that many described as political awakening. The effect was huge: the political class was rattled and was forced to accede to some of the demands of the civil society that called for a strong Jan Lokpal. Moreover, the team claimed that their campaign against the Congress candidate in the Hissar by-election too proved fruitful as the candidate lost its security deposit in the fray, though political analysts seem to dis-agree with this claim of team Anna.
Well, that was some months ago. Anna Hazare who led the country towards a second freedom struggle as many viewed is under the scanner courtesy his warriors (team members). While some of the team members like Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi are facing the wrath of the government for their omissions and commissions; the team, it seems is losing its path with members going their own way. The team may attribute these things as aberrations and dismiss it as hood-winking by the government, but it can't be denied that the charges made against some of the key members are proving to be correct. Despite defending herself tooth and nail( which could be true as well), firebrand Kiran Bedi couldn't conceal the fact that she had infact produced inflated bills to various organisations not once but for numerous occasions for travelling. Similarly, Mr Kejriwal, a former civil servant who till recently was denying that he owes any money to the government for leaving his job, has now agreed to pay Rs 9.27lakh. These two instances clearly prove that there was some truth in both the cases.
The point is though the acts done by both the warriors of Hazare may have been done without any bad intention and may be very small in comparison to numerous scams and scandals that run in crores, the team members should try to clean their houses before throwing salvos at the politicians. The allegations that were splashed in all the media channels shocked the middle class -who had found a messiah in these members.
The members need to be equally shrewd in countering the politicians who will try and take every opportunity to break this team. Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal and for that matter the other core members of the team faltered in the first occasion and gave enough opportunity to their opposition to beat them but now Anna should take things under his control and should see that such incidents are not repeated in the future. The team members before talking to the media should consult with their team members if they want to see themselves in a bigger platform in the future. Apart from making their NGO's 'India against corruption's financial transactions transparent, each member should check and counter-check the other member’s personal transactions so that there is no iota of doubt in public's mind.
India's middle class has finally found a political voice. They are trying to participate in the political arena. The feeling that we need to be in the system to clean the system is gaining momentum and is reflecting in the election results as well. The sense of despair that we can't change the system is paving the way to yes, we can. Right to reject and recall the MPs is gaining ground. So, the members of the civil society need to very careful if they want to keep this momentum going to take the middle class along with them and not let them go into their apathetic mode yet again. On the other hand, it's time for our middle class to look beyond a leader and become its own leader in cleansing the political malaise in the country!
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