Not enough people are asking what is motivating people to go to Ramlila Maidan in such large numbers. People like Ghazala Jamil and Anish Ahluwalia are not asking this question because for them the whole thing is an elite, middle-class conspiracy that is anti-Dalit, anti-OBC, anti-Muslim, anti-justice, anti-equality, anti-peace, anti-love and anti-sex.
These saviours of the marginalised, the poor and the vulnerable make the point that Anna Hazare’s means are showing contempt for the people by not letting people’s chosen representatives delay anti-corruption measures. They are making the point that unless Anna Hazare’s movements takes up issues of land reforms and justice for Gujarat’s Muslims, he should not be supported.
At the Ramlila Maidan, people may different views on justice for Gujarat’s Muslims and police reforms that make the police independent of the executive. They are all, however, united by the desire of mechanism that would do something about corruption. To not appreciate this sentiment is to have utter contempt for these people. Unlike Ghazala Jamil, Anish Ahluwalia doesn’t even hide it. He writes: “One cannot ignore the possibility that sometimes large number of people can move from one misconception to another without bothering to examine its long term consequences.”
Tripti Lahiri has recorded a few such stories of misled people, people who Ghazal Jamil presumes are anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit:
Sunita Kundu, 35, Army tank repair worker: Corruption has become so great. To fill any form, to do anything, you have to give a bribe. It happens a lot. To file a police complaint takes 500 rupees.
Manvendra Singh, 38, runs a computer supply firm: For government workers, their salary is like a pension; to get any actual work done you have to pay money. Even for a phone line, you have to pay a bribe.
Vinod Kumar, 59, auto parts trader: I bought a plot of industrial land [from its previous owner] in 2005; I haven’t been able to get it transferred [to my name] yet. I paid 200,000 rupees for it. They asked for 50,000 rupees to get it transferred. One of the officers [I dealt with] was later caught with two million rupees in bribe money. Those people went to jail and came out also; I still haven’t got my plot. I’m 59. Now what factory will I start?
R.N. Mandal, 40, driver: My village is in Bihar. There is a scheme called the Indira Awaas Yojna [it provides financial assistance for home building to rural families who are below the poverty line]. We’ve been waiting one-and-a half-years for it. Our name is on the list but we haven’t received all the money. In my family I got it, but my mother didn’t get it. They say her number hasn’t come up yet. Even what I got wasn’t the full amount, the village headmen kept 5,000 rupees.
Ravi Agrawal, 36, manufactures motors and other industrial parts: It’s a daily experience. The policemen put those barricades on the street and they stop you. They ask for your license. Then they ask for your registration card. Then they ask for your insurance. Then they ask for your pollution check certificate [meant to be renewed at gas stations every three months]. If you have got all these things, they say your lights were on high, or they weren’t on. Until they get 100 rupees, they keep asking. [Link]
I can imagine the naysayers going up Sunita Kundu, Manvendra Singh, Vinod Kumar, RM Mandal and Ravi Agrawal and say: “Shh! This Anna Hazare is a fascist and doesn’t care about displacement of tribals! Don’t be fooled by him. Support democracy! You have elections to make yourself heard. Use your vote! Wait for your chance to vote the Congress in power again in 2014 because we have to keep the Hindu right out, okay?”