Saturday, 28 March 2015

Anna: Anarchist or Dictator?

For people like this writer, who have a genius for getting predictions spectacularly wrong, its always an unmitigated joy when on the odd occasion, subsequent events prove them right. As it happens Anna Hazare has just given me that pleasure.

To quote my own words: "I am deeply concerned at the direction in which Anna's movement is heading... I was never in favour of holding a legitimate, democratically elected Government to ransom". 

These words were written on 9th November 2011. Over three years later, Anna has just proven my point by calling for a jail bharo andolan in protest against the proposed bill to amend the land acquisition law, notwithstanding the invitation to an open debate from Nitin Gadkari.

Anna Hazare

If that wasn't bad enough, Anna Hazare went on to issue a counter-invitation, this time to the prime minister, calling for an open debate. Unless I'm mistaken, the message is that: Anna will choose his opponents entirely at his convenience and even choose the timing and medium and the other person had bloody well bow before his will or risk a hartal. I'm afraid, these methods are anarchic and dictatorial. There is no place for such methods in a democracy.

There are those who would argue that Anna's methods are similar to those of Mahatma Gandhi. I for one do not buy that argument. The situation in India today cannot be compared to that in Gandhi's time. Whereas the great man's fasts were in protest against an alien government imposed upon the country, Anna's protests are targeted at a popular government legitimately voted to power by us, the people of India. If the will of the people overrides all other considerations, then pray how else did the present government come to power? How did it get the outright majority it enjoys in the Lok Sabha?

And so while I have nothing but the the highest respect for Anna Hazare's integrity and his intentions, I'm vehemently opposed to his methods. Whatever he intends to do, its incumbent on him to respect the institutions of the democracy we are proud of.

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