Non political actors come to the fore

Non political actors come to the fore

With Baba Ramdev in no mood to meekly accept the government's suggestion of calling off his fast and exhorting his followers to disperse peacefully,  his arrest was ordered.
Expectedly the angry assemblage directed their ire against the police. The yoga guru tried to escape by jumping off the dais encircled by women forming the innermost cordon of defence. Baba Ramdev tried to disguise himself as a woman in a white salwaar-kameez instead of the traditional saffron. He, was, however spotted by a posse of cops trying to enter the New Delhi railway station. The police swooped on the scene without taking the imponderables into account. They should have used a microphone to address the people of the goings on, assuring them that Baba Ramdev was in police custody and there was no threat to him. The law and order machinery should have impressed upon the assemblage to peacefully gather their belongings and leave as the party was over. Instead, police mishandled the operation causing grievous injuries to  people which could have been avoided.

Creating political space

With assembly elections scheduled for next year in Uttar Pradesh, the so called crusade against corruption by the yoga guru was intended to create political space for himself.

Even though Baba Ramdev claims he is not interested in forming a political party, there is no doubt that he proposes floating one and have his nominees contest the election to propagate his ideas and programmes. On his part, the yoga guru has affirmed that he will personally steer clear of entering the electoral fray. Inevitably, there was political brinkmanship to bring Baba Ramdev round, aimed at putting down Anna Hazare, which led to a loss of face for the government as well as rendered its sincerity in tackling the menace of corruption suspect.

The fissures between the camp of Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare's civil activists was all too evident. So also the effort of the government to secure the backing of Baba Ramdev’s significant constituency to bolster the Congress which is on an extremely weak wicket in Uttar Pradesh. The govenrnment and its strategists did not have to wait so long to understand that the RSS was backing Baba Ramdev to the hilt. Its cadres had been advised to activate themselves and join Baba Ramdev’s fight against corruption all over the country. The BJP also lent its support but remained somewhat circumspect in making any other commitment. Baba Ramdev wants black money hoarders should be handed the death sentence which reflects his warped line of thinking. Several ministers and senior Congressmen are beginning to realise that the Lokpal Bill has provided the platform to dabble in politics and share power between the elected and those selecting themselves among the civil society. Having realised the hard realities, the government hardened its stand that irrespective of the participation of those in the Joint Drafting Committee of the proposed Lokpal Bill, it will go ahead in having the draft ready by June 30. The Anna Hazare group has said  that it will attend the meetings of the JDC and if its suggestions are rejected, it will give a dissenting note.

Public anger against the government for its failure to proceed against those having stashed away black money abroad has been simmering for more than a year. The problem of foreign governments not coming forward readily to cooperate mutually has been a stumbling block. At the same time the government has failed to follow up the few leads that were forthcoming.  What is perplexing is that the government has failed to notice public anger despite the odd effort to keep the public informed.

The BJP too wants to gain political mileage from the ongoing crusade against corruption and boost its popularity ratings. Over the last twelve months the BJP has failed to come up with anything significant other than accusing the UPA of being the most corrupt government. With the BJP found wanting in taking on the UPA government, non-political actors have emerged on the stage. It is apparent the BJP needs to reinvent itself to catch the imagination of the people rather than depend on Uma Bharti who has had a homecoming to wrest UP with sentiments of Ayodhya and Ram Rajya.

Collective action in the past has failed to elicit a favourable response from those in authority. Seasoned bureaucrats aver that it has been impossible to fight corruption. The Lokpal Bill has remained elusive for more than four decades. It is time that the political diaspora displays the will to deal with this issue with a firm hand rather than dabbling in brinkmanship.

(The writer is a political commentator.)


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