Repeat of a JP-like movement: What's holding Anna back?

Unlike JP whose grounding in socialism and training under Gandhi enabled him to grasp impulses of Indian society, Anna Hazare often comes across as anti-political


Ajay Singh | July 31, 2012

There are many anecdotes about Jayaprakash Narayan. One such anecdote recounts how the old man turned angry when he was made to wait for an hour to meet then prime minister Indira Gandhi. More commonly known as JP, he was a socialist comrade of Nehru and a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi. A quintessential politician who never pursued power, he was well versed though in the cross-currents of politics. JP vowed to oust Indira and he succeeded in his mission through instrument of politics.

Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption is often compared with the JP’s movement of the seventies. There is enough display of anger by leaders of the movement. Anna and his team have been first feted and later slighted in the worst kind of political puerility. And Anna has all the reasons to nurse this anger and turn it into a tidal wave against the government. The big question is: can he repeat a JP-like movement?

There is no denying the fact that there are many similarities between the two situations. The groundswell of the emotions that triggered Gujarat’s Nav Nirman movement and students’ unrest in Bihar is not different from the chaos witnessed in the country now. For instance, the recent killing of a manager in the premises of Maruti-Suzuki plant in Gurgaon is just an indicator of the silent anger welling up within certain social groups.

But this is just one side of the story. That the state has become insensitive would be an understatement. The criminality of Maoists (radical left) is matched with much more brutalisation of the state forces to repress common masses. If one has any doubt, it can be dispelled with visiting encounter sites in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand or Orissa. Similarly, the alienation of people in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir has become an integral part of the statecraft which is carefully fashioned by deceit and hubris.

But what is more sinister is the paralysis that has gripped governance in the country. Much before the reputed foreign journals diagnosed the malaise of underperformance, there was unanimity in New Delhi’s power corridors that the government did not function. There are many ministries where critical positions of deputy and joint secretaries remain unfilled for months on end. Bureaucrats are scared of moving files to clear projects which are vital to the development of the country. One would get these stories merely by paying cursory visits to the offices of various ministries in New Delhi.

This abject state of governance combined with undiluted arrogance of power is an ideal situation to channelise people’s anger into positive politics. But unlike JP whose grounding in socialism in the United States in his student days and subsequent training as an activist with Mahatma Gandhi enabled him to grasp impulses of Indian society, Anna Hazare often comes across as anti-political. His understanding of society is limited to rural parts of Marathwada. His views conform to an old and archaic feudalism. Yet Anna refuses to be a pushover and rises like phoenix when the government predicts his imminent doom.

This time again his indefinite fast is bound to unnerve the government as his health starts deteriorating. But it would be wrong to surmise that Anna’s movement would craft an alternative political grammar which will eventually throw up a new political paradigm. On the contrary, there is a greater risk of people turning to cynicism in view of the sterile effect of Anna’s movement. There is hardly any doubt that Anna is no JP. But his phenomenal rise in people’s esteem is a clear indication of people’s love for basic human values — simplicity, truthfulness and honesty. Anna is loved in the streets of Delhi for emotional reasons. But his influence beyond Delhi is unlikely to make much impact as people still long for a hard-boiled politician with ingredients of Anna Hazare. This was the precise reason why JP could teach Indira Gandhi a lesson. But Anna’s denouement would be quite akin to a tragicomedy for the country’s politics.



Other News

India will set example of post-Covid-19 economic revival: Modi

India is determined to “set an example” for the rest of the word in the post-pandemic economic revival, prime minister Narendra Modi has said, underling the need to become self-reliant. “There is also a widespread debate on how the economies of various countries, including

3,543 ‘Shramik Special’ trains transport 48 lakh people in 26 days

Close to 48 lakh migrant labourers have been able to reach home from the cities they were working in, as the Indian Railways have run a total of 3,543 “Sharmik Special” trains from May 1. Following the home ministry order regarding the movement by special trains of migrant worker

How Jeevan Raths have helped 52,000 migrants in Maharashtra

Before the novel coronavirus hit it, Mumbai about 10-12 lakh labourers from elsewhere had made it their home. The figure for the state of Maharashtra was another 18-20 lakh. As the pandemic spread and the Maximum City emerged as the worst-hit place in India, all economic activities came to an end, and with

China is practicing attack as the best form of defence

For the rest of the world, it is not easy to understand China when it comes to politics or economics. Under pressure from the international community, it has accepted to open the country for a “comprehensive” probe into the origin of the deadly coronavirus. But it is not clear whether the Asian

Corona warriors to “flush the virus” in Mumbai

Even as humanitarian support is pouring in to help distressed migrants amid Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, civil society organizations and NGOs are working for sanitation of community toilets which have become breeding source of virus infection. Every community toilet has 20 seats. Each

How lockdown was used to shore up health infrastructure

India, completing about two months of lockdown to protect against the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, has made good use of the time to improve health infrastructure, the government has said. Countering media reports “about some decisions of the government regarding the lockdown implem


Current Issue


Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter