Onwards to the Independence of the Corrupt!
Let us pledge this 15th of August, that we will tirelessly work towards the independence – nay dictatorship – of the corrupt. We must tirelessly fight every attempt to raise corruption as an issue – by gullible people who do not understand that corruption is not a real issue. We will not allow such people to be misled by demagogues and fascists who are interested only in power – even if they do not show their hunger for power by contesting elections. Indeed, precisely because they do not contest elections.
Is the new mantra of democracy? How else do we understand the deafening silence on the series of dictatorial measures adopted by the government, on the part of all those who have been vocal, indeed strident, in their attack on the Anna Hazare movement? It is one thing to be opposed to the Anna Hazare movement but the silence – from parties as well as intellectuals, democratic rights groups and self-righteous editorial commentators of the Indian Express – on the desperate measures being adopted by one of the most corrupt governments ever, is inexplicable. It is as if the only threat to democracy today comes from a group of people who want to raise their voice in civil disobedience against public money being looted by elected representatives acting at the behest of powerful corporate interests.
First the Delhi Police simply refused permission to Anna Hazare and the India Against Corruption fast. Then they asked them to hold their protest in Burari! That is to say on the border of Haryana. This was but another way of disallowing it. Then they came out with a novel idea – a set of preconditions that include an undertaking that there will not be more than 5000 people and that the fast will be wound up in three days. Clearly, no self-respecting set of protestors will agree to such conditions and so ‘Team Anna’ refused to sign the undertaking.
The response of Delhi Police: Seal the borders; stop all protestors from coming into Delhi right there. Cordon off the designated site and not allow protestors to come in at all, till the blatantly anti-democratic and unconstitutional undertaking has been signed. There can be little doubt that this is not a simple police measure but something approved at the highest levels of the government of the corrupt. And doing jugalbandi with this set of administrative measures are the new string of allegations that have been thrown by the government at the protestors. After doctored CDs failed to work, some more ‘evidence’ has been produced about Hazare being ‘neck-deep’ in corruption, as if that lessens their guilt. As I have said on earlier occasions, I hold no brief for Anna Hazare, but it is really disturbing to see this complete silence when every step of the government today against a legitimate democratic protest is knocking down some of the most crucial elements of the democratic process. Will the government or Delhi police be able to stop a rampaging mob of VHP-ites when they are out to destroy inter-community peace? Have they ever been? Will they be able to stop it if the protestors, like say Tikait’s followers some years ago, come barging into the city and take it over? I do not mean to put the two (VHP and Tikait) in the same category but want to draw attention to the fact that when large masses are simply led, in complete disregard to all ‘civilities’ (like seeking advance police permission) – they can come into the city, go on a rampage, sexually harass women (even while making legitimate protests!) and there is little the police or the government can do. Is that the message the government is trying to convey? Should future protestors now, rather than seeking permission, simply take over the city and force a confrontation – which the government is doing in any case? Will that be a better, democratic process?
This is a question not only for the government but also for all those who have spoken eloquently over the past few months on democracy. Let us remember that every single measure that is being adopted today with the anti-corruption movement will be repeated with other protests in future and if we do not speak against them today, will we have the moral right to speak when it happens to ‘our type’ of protests?
Meanwhile, the worst may be happening. It is only the BJP that has come out forcefully against the ‘Emergency-type’ repressive measures being deployed by the government. It will without doubt strike a sympathetic chord among the large sections of the movements supporters. This party will be resurrected from its state of almost terminal illness thanks to the central government’s doings. But we too will have a lot to answer for if the BJP runs away with the political gains of the movement. After all, eventually, it is in electoral terms that the effects will be translated when election time comes.