Anna’s anti-Congress encore
Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption encore at Jantar Mantar was riddled with contradictions the mainstream media failed to catch. There’s a lot for which the UPA has to answer. But the veteran Gandhian’s focus on the UPA regime at the Centre while discussing whistle-blowers who died in BJP-ruled states brought out in stark relief his anti-Congress bias.
In a democracy everybody has the right to attack rulers — be it at the Centre or in provinces. But Team Anna was intellectually wanting in overlooking administrative lapses, even complicity, in BJP ruled states in the fight against graft.
They flagged the sacrifices of upright activists in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkhand but treated the saffron party with kid-gloves, Kiran Bedi singling it out for praise for its support for placing the CBI under the proposed Lok Pal.
Ms Bedi cannot be ignorant of the fact that law and order is a state subject. One may therefore ask the former IPS officer as to whose responsibility it was to afford protection to the deceased whistleblowers? Or for that matter providing compensation and speedy justice to their families?
To stretch further the argument, is it not true that smaller parties running governments in states teamed up with the BJP and the Left to stall a model Lokayukta law. Their plea: making the legislation mandatory for States was antithetical to the federal spirit of the Constitution.
Regional outfits insist it’s their right to determine the architecture, functioning and appointment procedures for state lokayuktas at the expense of uniformity in contesting corruption. A natural corollary of such lopsided approach would be that each state will have its own brand of ombudsman.
The best protection for whistleblowers is instilling in their predators the fear of honest enforcement of law. Can that be done by the Centre alone when provincial regimes are more keen on guarding their turf instead of setting up robust anti-graft forums where honest people can blow whistle away from the hearing distance of corrupt politicos and policemen?
The answer should be an affirmative yes. But not so for the myopic Anna and his lieutenants who want police cases against central ministers on the basis of newspaper reports of involvement in graft. Even here they apply a different yardstick to themselves and to potential allies such as Baba Ramdev who were similarly named by the media.
Charity doesn’t obviously begin from home for Team Anna, whose language of communication is as much objectionable as some of their tactics. The Bollywood idiom they so frequently use adds no luster to their campaign. About time they reworked their act to acquire a more serious and balanced approach to fighting corruption.