Column : Rise and fall of Anna Hazare

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SummaryAnna Hazare’s transformation—from a social activist with considerable moral force to being a catalyst in the rough and tumble of India’s party politics—was nearly complete when he tragically declared before the thinning crowds at Mumbai’s MMRDA grounds that Team Anna will campaign against the Congress party in the forthcoming assembly elections as well as in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Anna Hazare’s transformation—from a social activist with considerable moral force to being a catalyst in the rough and tumble of India’s party politics—was nearly complete when he tragically declared before the thinning crowds at Mumbai’s MMRDA grounds that Team Anna will campaign against the Congress party in the forthcoming assembly elections as well as in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Anna Hazare displayed uncharacteristic hatred for the Congress when he described the ruling party as a bunch of “gaddars”(traitors) for not getting the Jan Lokpal Bill cleared in Parliament. After the Lok Sabha vote was concluded, television reporters asked Anna what he thought of the BJP, which too had not endorsed the essential features of the Jan Lokpal inside Parliament. When journos forced him to take a position on the BJP’s double standards, Anna simply got up and walked away, to the utter astonishment of the mediapersons. Even Arvind Kejriwal, sitting next to Anna, seemed a bit startled at the way Hazare walked away from the impromptu press conference.

Arvind Kejriwal also painstakingly refrained from commenting on why the BJP was clearly falling short of accepting the fundamental features of the Jan Lokpal proposed by Hazare. After all, the leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, clearly spoke against the CBI being entirely brought under the Lokpal as demanded by Team Anna. Swaraj also spoke against a central Lokpal Bill mandating the legal structure and working of state Lokayuktas as this would go against the spirit of the federal structure of our Constitution.

In fact, it was clear from the very beginning that Team Anna’s super-Ombudsman with powers to investigate and prosecute 65 lakh employees across the Centre and states would not pass the test of India’s federal framework of politics as well as the Constitution.

Indeed, it was Team Anna’s absolutist stance that has resulted in some of its popularity dwindling since Hazare’s successful August agitation. Hazare squandered some of the goodwill and moral force he had acquired by being too rigid on his stance of either Jan Lokpal or nothing, by publicly denigrating the parliamentary process and finally by openly getting associated with party politics.

Hazare had retained his credibility and purity, as it were, by keeping away from politicians of any hue during his April and August agitations when he got massive support from the urban middle class. That purity got significantly diluted when he shared

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