It’s not about corruption. It can’t be. Because if it was only about corruption, then none of us are exempt from it. We have all lied, bribed, taken unfair advantage of a situation in some way or the other. It could have been a ticket that we have bought in black. It could have been the commission we had to pay to jump the queue. It could have been the stack of cash under the table we have slipped for a licence. The scale may have varied but we have all played our part in nurturing corruption. And it’s not as if by admitting to our role in fostering corruption we have won ourselves some reprieve. In fact Anna’s crusade is as much against us as it is against the politicians. So why do we feel compelled to support this old man who has been doing his best to make us look and feel bad.
I think the dam simply burst. Just because we have been corrupt does not mean we have liked being in that position. Especially since most of us have been bribing rather than getting bribed. We have been paying rather than getting paid. And increasingly we have been discovering that whatever honour there was among the thieves who were looting us, looting the nation, has fast disappeared. It’s not as if India has not had bad governance in the past. But we have never had this level of deviousness from the ruling classes. Increasingly we have started to believe that not only have we been short changed but we are also being mocked for being in a position of being cheated. That it was our fault somehow to have landed ourselves in this situation.
And the man who has done this to us is none other than our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Here is a man who had a mandate of the entire nation behind him. We took him to be one of our own. As someone who had to compromise his integrity because he was forced to. Just like us. We believed his sense of purpose was so strong that he will first achieve whatever he had to and then ensure that we will transition into a cleaner system. Instead he has let us down like no other politician has. The decency we attributed to him has been arrogated by him and turned into an infuriating smugness. He was meant to liberate us. Instead the government he leads has mired the nation in one scam after another. And to add insult to injury he has remained totally immune to the charges levelled against his ministers. Forgetting that sooner or later the nation would wake up to a concept called collective responsibility that is not selective in affixing blame.
We no longer believe that the Prime Minister was not aware of what has happening right under his nose. We know now he knew and ignored what has happening to stay in power. Sonia Gandhi didn’t do this to him. He did this to himself. In his crusade for capitalism he seems to have forgotten all norms of basic human decency. What sense does a line like inflation is inevitable in our quest for growth make to a starving man unable to manage one square meal a day because of the unchecked price rise? How different is it from asking if they can’t afford bread, why don’t they eat cakes?
Make no mistake about it. Anna Hazare represents the greatest threat to this self serving government and its leader. For one the Gandhian has taken the wind out of the sails of the careful brand building of the Prime Minister. He has also emerged at a time when the personal credibility of Manmohan Singh is at an all time low. Sonia Gandhi has not appealed to Anna Hazare to end his fast out of humanitarian considerations. She has probably seen her dreams of positioning her son as the next Prime Minister go up in smoke if she does not assuage Anna’s feelings. And the feelings of the entire nation. The ruling classes are on their knees and for a change we, the citizens of this country, are feeling smug. While they squirm.
That’s why we need Anna Hazare.