Love or sex?

I was amused to see Team Anna draw flak this week from two leaders quite on the opposite sides of the spectrum: Sonia Gandhi and Nitish Kumar. While Sonia, whose speech was read out in absentia at a rally in Uttarakhand, seemed quite impatient with the frequent noises being made by the team members, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was simply – and justifiably – peeved at the tendency of the team members to think only they are right and everybody else who has his or her own mind is corrupt.

Quite frankly, they are all acting holier than thou when they have nothing to be holy about. If Anna was not already indicted by the Justice PB Samant Commission for indulging in corruption – albeit of a mere Rs two lakh to celebrate his birthday in his village – through his Hind Swaraj Trust which is funded by the government (and Anna has admitted to the fraud, too), I do not see what leg both Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal have to stand on any more.

It is easy to dismiss all the allegations as a witch-hunt by the government but the point is not quite that. Rather, if you are raising fingers at others be sure some are not pointed at you as well. And I believe very few of the core committee so far among the prominent members can come out clean in this respect.

Even if this were a witch-hunt, it is not as though the government has manufactured scams against them – the ammunition was there to begin with, offered by the activists themselves. All that the government perhaps did was fit it to a gun and press the trigger.

I am simply amazed by the capacity of Team Anna to give character certificates to themselves. With Bedi, particularly, it is like that famous dialogue out of a recent Bollywood film: tumhara ishq ishq aur hamara ishq sex (your love is for love and my love is just for sex)?

So she thought it was okay to be corrupt when you return the money after being caught. Did DMK MP Kanimozhi, now undergoing trial in the 2G scam, not do exactly the same? So why is she still in jail while Bedi continues to be out in fresh air – and Bedi could be more culpable given that she has been a high-ranking police officer who dealt with such cases throughout her life and knew the law well enough. Her conduct really has been more shameful than Kanimozhi’s who, at least, never thought she was better than the rest of us in all the universe.

But I am greatly satisfied that what I said several weeks ago – and for which I received more brickbats than bouquets – is finally being substantiated by the testimony of others close to Anna Hazare.

Raju Parulekar, a journalist of repute who I have known for some years now, was Anna’s official blogger and has perhaps done the maximum damage to Team Anna by simply speaking the truth. But then wasn’t the team attempting to give the impression that Parulekar was overstepping his brief while blogging in Anna’s name and got the social activist to endorse that indictment?

Parulekar says that Anna said of Kejriwal: jab zaroorat ho toh gadhe ko bhi baap banana padta hai (you have to make a father out of an ass when you have to). I was pleasantly surprised that Anna had worked it out for himself. For, as much as I know of the social worker, usually it is others who make up his mind for him.

But, then, I believe Kejriwal, Bedi and the others might have been having similar thoughts about Anna, given his simple-mindedness. Which is why you found them manipulating him throughout the agitation both in April and August; you didn’t find any of Anna’s old associates around him at the time because either Team Anna had kept them strictly away lest they catch on or these old friends had themselves quit the scene because, as one of them told me only last week, “It is a tough call dealing with Anna. He is simply inconsistent, takes awfully long to get things right and you can never be sure he will not change his mind and let you down just when you have stuck your neck out for him.”

That I believe is precisely what happened with Parulekar but then he had enough intelligence to match Team Anna’s and did not hesitate to speak the truth. And I believe he could have sounded the death knell for Team Anna.

Sure, the anti-corruption movement has caught the people’s imagination and all of us wish to see an end to corruption. But like my good friend, Dr Sharit Bhowmik, Dean of the School of Labour and Management Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences had told me, very tellingly, then, “It is all about your corruption versus my corruption. The policeman waved a flag at Anna’s rally because he was disgusted with the rationing officer who demanded Rs 100 for issuing him with a card. The income tax officer made tracks to the protest site because he was mad at that very cop who demanded Rs 100 from him for jumping lanes at a traffic signal, even though he had just ripped off a film star for evading taxes. And the builders took the cake – all that they meant by supporting Anna was that they should be allowed to grab land from tribals without having to bribe the clerks at Mantralaya (the secretariat).”

So, as even my rather unworldly aunt commented, “Toh kis ki kameez zyaada safed hai?” (whose shirt is whiter?) Or, rather, who is the fairest of them all?

Even I could not have put it better.

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