Kisan Baburao Hazare

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Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN

The Times of India, June 20, 2011

Hazare had fought corruption at various levels within Maharashtra till he polevaulted to the national scene by starting his hunger strike for Jan Lokpal Bill on April 4 at Jantar Mantar. Exasperated by the spread of corruption, people came in droves to Jantar Mantar, driving the media into a 24x7 frenzy and forcing the government to set up a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill, which Team Anna portrayed as the panacea for all corruption bred ills.

Will the Lokpal be sufficiently armed to slay the demon of corruption that is present in every department— registration of FIR or closing of case, making ration card, recruiting low-level staff, allowing shopkeepers to sell adulterated stuff, turning away when tickets are black marketed.

Strengthening the civil society

When one rides a popularity wave, there is little introspection. Team Anna has peaked in its popularity and may soon face public scrutiny. Attempts have already been made to stain credentials of team members. In a democracy, everyone is entitled to a particular view, like Team Anna. It is difficult to determine who is right. Such a view is anti-dialogue. Team Anna is part of civil society and not civil society itself. Hence, the government can’t get governed by the views of one section and prepare a draft bill on Lokpal. The proposals must be taken around India and debated with other sections before enacting a law. Deadlines are man-made. Threat of hunger strike on the drop of a hat is childish. The SC had said “hunger strike cannot amend the Constitution though it may set in motion changes in the basic law which must withstand scrutiny on Constitution anvil”. What if a larger section of civil society starts to fast against Team Anna’s Lokpal? It is necessary the proposals are put subjected to a wider national debate.

The Centre reacted quickly to the high-profile satyagraha by Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare but turned a blind eye to the fast by Swami Nigamanand & Irom Chanu Sharmila

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