Groundswell against corruption, ground for hope

From protests in Maharashtra to the upcoming one in Delhi


Danish Raza | January 28, 2011

Government officials protest ADC YAshwant Sonawane`s killing by the oil mafia
Government officials protest ADC YAshwant Sonawane`s killing by the oil mafia

Enough is enough. This message rang out loud and clear on Thursday as government employees across Maharashtra protested the killing of Yashwant Sonawane, the additional collector who was burnt alive on Tuesday allegedly by the kerosene mafia. The number of those who participated has been estimated anywhere between a whopping 15 lakh and 24 lakh, making it an unprecedented protest against corruption and governance. That there is a groundswell of sentiment against corruption is suddenly palpable across the country. Delhi is gearing up for a similarly robust outpouring of disgust against corruption on Sunday when members of civil society, religious leaders and college students will rally to demand an anti- corruption law and the passage of the proposed Lokapal bill prepared by the civil society.

Arvind Kejriwal, who is associated with ‘India against corruption’ which is holding the rally, says there is no government institution which can independently investigate corruption cases against politicians and bureaucrats. “This is not just a symbolic rally against corruption,” he emphasises, “We are demanding an anti- corruption mechanism. We have drafted a Lokpall bill which is different from the one proposed by the government. The fact that so many people have agreed to participate in the rally shows that they are angry and fed up with the current system."

Swami Agnivesh, who will also be participating in the rally, says there is a possibility of it becoming a people’s movement. “The current government has lost its credibility,” he says, “Cases such as the selection of current CVC, black money and Adarsh scam have all left a dent on its image. Corruption affects you and me and all of us. People are frustrated.”

Jagdeep Chhokar, former dean of IIM, Ahmedabad and founder of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), believes that the Delhi rally will be a symbolic event.  “It reflects that people are fairly agitated and disturbed,” he says, but cautions, “I am not sure if the rally on 30th will result anything major because Delhi is not Tunisia or Thailand."

Even so, it is clear that corruption has suddenly captured the imagination of the aam aadmi and the focus of popular disgust is the politician-bureaucrat-trader nexus.



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