Anna’s eloquent maun
Anna Hazare has gone on a maun vrat. In some ways, his decision to go silent is eloquent, come as it does after Prashant Bhushan’s controversial remarks on Kashmir that begot a violent right wing reaction. He’s upset also with Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that the self-professed Gandhian was above Parliament.
Surrounded by an eclectic crowd with strong views on issues ranging from Kashmir to Naxalism and the Gujarat riots, Hazare has lately been embarrassed by their public expression of differences. Somewhat unfairly branded a Congress Trojan Horse, Swami Agnivesh quit (or was eased out) some weeks ago. Justice Santosh Hegde too found himself marginalized within the much celebrated anti-graft Team after he— as the Karnataka Lok Ayukta— indicted B S Yeddyurappa in various land scam cases.
It was in the aftermath of his anti-Yeddy verdict that Hegde was replaced by Kiran Bedi on Anna’s team to negotiate the Jan Lok Pal draft with the government. More recently, the retired Judge lambasted Kejriwal’s anti-Congress pitch in the Hisar by-polls on the ground that it violated the anti-corruption movement’s apolitical character.
But from Anna’s standpoint, Prashant’s transgressions are more serious. The former army soldier considers Kashmir as an integral part of India. He has nothing but disdain for the plebiscite option his lawyer colleague advocated for letting the Kashmiris exercise their freedom of choice.
It’s difficult to say what exactly is going on in Hazare’s mind. He’s ambiguous on the Manipur based activist Irom Chanu Sharmila’s demand for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, alleged human rights violations in Kashmir and the Salva Judam project to counter naxalism.
As a former armyman, Anna’s a bit of a militarist, a la the RSS. But to be fair, he lost little time to dissociate from the Sangh when Mohan Bhagwat claimed equity in various programmes of India Against Corruption (IAC).
Many Congress leaders from Maharashtra do not subscribe to Digvijay’s oft-repeated charge of Anna being an RSS prop.
They say the Gandhian has a mind of his own, politically that is, though he isn’t any great thinker or visionary. He makes up for these shortcomings with unwavering commitment to issues as was evident during his Ramlila maidan fast.
When he finally breaks his maun, Anna would face a plethora of questions — from Sanjiv Bhatt’s bail in Gujarat to the Congress’s defeat in Hisar, Yeddy’s arrest in Bangalore and Rahul Gandhi’s recent moves to set up a talks table with Anna’s followers from his native village.
The Gandhian is on record telling a TV channel that he’d work with the Congress if it keeps its promise of legislating on the Lok Pal in Parliament’s winter session. For the present, the U-turn to which he hinted before going silent seems improbable.