AAJ AADHI JEET HUI HAI, POORY JEET KE LIYE SANGHARSH JAARI RAHEGA, so said Anna Hazare at the Ramlila Maidan, Delhi after the Union Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh met him on the rostrum and handed over a letter from Prime Minister of India informing of the acceptance of the three main issues by both houses of Parliament today. The unprecedented crowd there burst into jubilation when Anna Hazare announced that he would break his protest fast on Sunday, 28 Aug 11 at 10 AM. The common man has been invited to be a part of the celebration when the leader of the masses breaks his fast of 12 days plus.
In the last 12 days that Anna has been on fast, the Government of India and some of its ministers like P.Chidambaram and Kapil Sibbal opposed tooth and nail Anna Hazare and his idea of a movement by the civil society to eradicate corruption. The 74 year old simple but determined veteran army soldier hailing from Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra was even denied a place in vast Delhi where he could sit for a protest fast. The Delhi Police controlled by the Ministry of Home Affairs used every dirty trick to ensure that the simple Maratha drawing inspiration from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was left high and dry without any support in the national capital. He was arrested from his residence before he could sit on ANSHAN along with his supporters at the Jai Prakash Narayan park on the plea that section 144 Cr.P.C. had been promulgated there. Indeed it was an illegal arrest because Anna Hazare had not violated the law by then. To complete the harassment of a peaceful citizen, the Gandhian protester was sent to Tihar jail along with his colleagues of the civil society.
The citizens felt outraged. The TV cameras presented to the nation what high handedness the UPA government was doing and how the government was violating the basic human rights of peaceful protesters. People took to streets, raised slogans against the prevailing corruption and electrified the mind of common man. The sensible ministers read the writing on the wall and it is believed that on the intervention of the Prime Minister, all charges against Anna Hazare and his colleagues of the civil society were dropped and he was informed that he was a free man. Now it was Anna’s turn to pay the govt in its own coins. He refused to walk out of the jail until all restrictions on his holding the protest fast were removed and a suitable place was earmarked for it. Eventually, after a hard bargaining, the Ramlila Maidan was allotted for the protest fast and silly restrictions removed.
Thereafter the ex-soldier who drove heavy army trucks for 12 years and came under the enemy fire sat in the driving seat. The dirty tricks department threw many googlies but he batted well.
BARBED ARROWS BOOMRANGED
When the ministers of Manmohan govt had exhausted their dirty tricks, the Congress party took over the task of spoiling Anna’s image as a crusader for a cause. A young M.P. and party spokesman, Manish Tewari briefed the national press that Anna Hazare was an army deserter. Could an army deserter be loyal to the nation or the country, Tewari asked? But the barbed arrow boomranged on the Congress party as the Indian Army issued a press statement that Anna Hazare was not a deserter but was given an honourable discharge after completion of normal service. The Army even listed the medals awarded to the soldier-driver both in peace and war.
Same Manish Tewary burnt his fingers badly when in an angry and sarcastic voice he briefed the press addrwessing Anna in absentia “tum kis munh se bhrashtachar ka virodh kar rahe ho, tum swyam bhrashtachar mein sar se pair tak lipt ho”? The legal inquiry that he referred to was ultimately found to have discharged Anna Hazare as no personal involvement of his was found.
Another spokesman, Rashid Alwi sarcastically suggested to the press that he civil society movement of Anna Hazare was conceived of and supported by USA. The US govt denied any hand in the movement. Possibly a section of the Congress party was embarrassing the Prime Minister by mentioning USA as the PM is seen close to that country.
A suggestion was made by the same ill-natured politicians that Anna’s Aandolan was backed by the jobless misguided youth who were drunkards. The youth did support Anna in large numbers but they were all not in love with the booze. Admittedly some unruly elements did come to Ramlila Maidan to drink and make mischief but they were singled out and asked to leave the sacrosanct soil of mass movement to eradicate corruption.
CONGRESS PARTY AND GOVT
Some ministers of the Manmohan cabinet consider themselves close to Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president. They were dead opposed to holding any talks or negotiations with Team Anna. Those ministers looked to 10 Janpath for orders and support. Unfortunately for them, the occupant of that address was out of the country for a major surgery and was not available for guidance. However, many a time when the Govt ministers and Team Anna were on the verge of reaching an agreement, some ministers sabotaged it from within. Anna Hazare is made of sterner stuff and he remained steadfast to his protest fast. The team of doctors were indeed worried about Anna’s health after he crossed Day ten without a morsel of cereal or fruit or any form of solid entering into his stomach. The alarm bell did ring and doctors planned hospitalisation in case the medical condition deteriorated further but the soldier-fighter was determined to fight on. He did fight on and won laurels as stated heretofore.
PARLIAMENT PLAYED ROLE WELL
The Parliament played a positive role and found a way out to satisfy aspirations of the civil society and yet remain within parameters of the constitution of India. Both the houses sat in session even on a Saturday to resolve the ticklish issue. And they succeeded.
The Bhartiya Janata Party and the Congress Party cooperated with each other to save the life of Anna Hazare, a brave son of India
Both the houses of Parliament witnessed good debating skills of Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley but none from the treasury benches except Pranab da, leader of the house. Many a time it appeared that negotiations were coming to a nought but senior leaders like Advani Ji, Prime Minister himself intervened to save the day. Speaker Meira Kumar sat smiling and reminding the unruly elements to maintain decorum by saying BAITH JAIYE BAITH JAIYE.
Rahul Gandhi put in an appearance, a rare event, during the zero hour and made a ten-minute speech that was objected to by the BJP benches. The scion read out from a prepared paper and that is not permitted under the rules of the Lok Sabha. But the Speaker did not forbid it for reasons known to her. Instead of helping solve the tangle, Rahul threw a red herring by saying that the Lokpal should be a constitutional post and not only statutory. Perhaps he wanted to shelve the issue for the present to avoid unnecessary problems that might crop up later about the wealth of their extended family. He rallied those who did not wish Anna well but eventually their strategy did not stand the test of the time. Common man opined that Rahul Gandhi undid what good work the Prime Minister had done the previous day.
The solution hammered out by all concerned was to incorporate the three points sent by Anna in the recommendations to be forwarded by the houses to the standing committee. The ticklish points comprised:
1. Inclusion of lower bureaucracy in the ambit of Lokpal
2. Citizens’ Charter for all govt depts. And their observance to be under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
3. Estblishing Lok Ayukt in states on the lines of Lokpal at the centre.
It was the bonhomie prevailing in the house that enabled the inclusion of these points before sending the recommendations forward.
ROLE OF MEDIA
The media, specially the TV channels, played a major role in keeping the common man informed and maintain pressure on the government to listen to the recommendations of the civil society. TIMES NOW stole the show by informing and entertaining the viewers. AAJTAK and ZEE NEWS were head and shoulders above others in their coverage from the Sansad to the Ramlila Maidan and doing good political commentaries.
Bollywood came out in full force to support Anna Hazare. Sonu Nigam sang songs and moved the crowd emotionally with his rendering of RANG DE BASANTI CHOLA. Aamir Khan came over to express his solidarity with Anna Hazare and sang a song from Lagaan that went well with the crowd.
The youth was well represented at ground Zero all along. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, teachers came over from far and wide. There was even a serving civil judge from the Tees Hazari courts. Many retired army officers, police officers, and some serving senior officers came over to express their support for and solidarity with Anna Hazare.
WAR WILL GO ON
Anna Hazare thanked one and all for the support given to him. He especially thanked men, women and youth who stood the vagaries of nature but did not move out of the Ramlila Maidan. He was especially happy that the Movement of Civil Society remained non-violent and AHIMSA was the mantra for them.
The common man and the civil society have to remain awake so that the Jan Lokpal bill eventually becomes law. If the activists go to sleep, the govt will go into coma. Even after the Jan Lokpal comes into existence, corruption has to be eradicated by the common man. No one should ask for a bribe and none should be offered by none. There are other areas awaiting reform like the electoral reforms, bringing the black money of Indians back from foreign banks to the Indian banks and so on.
Anna Hazare and the crowd raised slogans of patriotism VANDE MATARAM AND BHARAT MATA KI JAI time and again. Under the influence of pseudo-secular policies of a govt the slogan with which the war of independence was fought, the Quit India movement was made a people’s movement, Vande Mataram had almost faded into oblivion. Even on 15 August ceremony at the Red Fort every year, Vande Mataram is just not sung because Nehru onwards no Prime Minister encouraged it. Anna Hazare revived the national spirit by asking the crowd to accompany him in raising the patriotic slogan, VANDE MATARAM.
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant, VSM
UPVANOM 609, sector 29, Noida - 201303
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