Thursday, April 14, 2011

Withdrawing support to Anna

nalin.tanvi's picture
Dear Anna,
I saw you on TV sitting at Jantar Mantar. You were on a fast that time. How are you now?
I would like to congratulate you for creating a sense of awareness among people and making them stand for themselves. I too kept a fast on the very first day of the movement. But, I am sorry, I discontinued it. You must be thinking “why?” Anna, let me clarify my stand on this.
I used to be a very normal kid involved in studies and fun only when I came to know about ‘Anna’ from people (read media), that Anna’s fast was to wake up the government from its slumber to take action on corruption, and that Anna was fighting to force the government to table the Lokpal Bill in parliament and have it implemented at the earliest. It increased my curiosity manifold as corruption is something imbibed in us. It has been inculcated through a gradual process of hardships. I was curious to know about the “magic wand” which can do such an amazing thing to us Indians.
I was in the middle of the process and D-day was here! I kept a fast on the very first day because I had to support the cause. Later on, I read the details of the bill proposed by your group and the views of eminent academics and journalists like Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Tavleen Singh, Shekhar Gupta, Swagoto Ganguly and many many more. I got to know details about the various measures that your team was trying to push through in the Lokpal Bill. I was pretty happy to see the names who were sharing the stage with you (except, of course, Mr Prashant Bhushan and Swami Agnivesh). But here, my evolving mind churned and threw innumerable questions at my face on my support. I got the feeling that the measures being adopted were draconian and very undemocratic in nature. While I respect the sentiment that brought together a large number of people out in support of your movement, I do not think enough thought was given to the implications of the provisions.
For example, your Lokpal Bill gives an unparalleled concentration of power in one institution that will literally be able to summon any institution and command any kind of police, judicial and investigative power. Secondly, the demand that is premised on an idea that non-elected institutions that do not involve politicians are the only ones that can be trusted is flawed. The claim that the people are not represented by elected representatives, but are represented by their self-appointed guardians is disturbing. If this were so, what is the difference between you and your coterie claiming that they are the authentic voice of the people and the Hurriyat Conference claiming that they are the authentic voice of the Kashmiris. Huriyat too has gathered a few thousand people on many occasions and brought the state of Kashmir to a halt? Your team does not contest elections nor does the Hurriyat. But both claim that they are the authentic voice of the people.
Now if we believe that your 'successful' movement has given the Indian people hope, I would suggest that you and your coterie should make good opportunity of this, form a political party and contest the next general elections in 2014. Considering that the entire country is with you, you shouldn’t have any problem in winning hands down and then make as many 'good' laws as they want. Alas! Your statement came that people vote for Rs 100 or a sari or a bottle of liquor and therefore, you will not contest an election.
Now let's come back to the process through which the five members of the 10-member committee were chosen. Was it a democratic process? No. Some people sitting at Jantar Mantar decided that Prashant Bhushan will be on it. Swami Agnivesh also could have been on it. Now who are these people? Prashant Bhushan is a leftist who time and again has stood in Indian courts to defend the terrorists, for example those who were killed and arrested in the Batla House encounter. The saffron-robed Agnivesh has openly supported the Naxal violence. Now, how can someone say that these 'gentlemen' represent me? They do not. Tomorrow, on the demand from certain quarters, if Prashant Bhushan quits the committee and gets his long-time friend Teesta Setalwad or Arundhanti Roy in his place, can she claim that she represents me? She cannot. Because she would not have become part of this committee through some democratic process but through the individual choice of some individuals. My question is if Prashant Bhushan can be on that committee, why not leaders of opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and the leaders of the left parties? I guess by giving credence to this process, we are undermining democracy.
Again, I read that you are pressing for a "right to recall a corporator". Please tell me frankly, how can a leader be 'recalled' through the 50+1 system when we choose him through first-past-the-post system? And, only two countries in the world have the "right to recall", and this 'right' has been used only twice in history (that too by a candidate who lost the election to a better candidate and wanted to take revenge). That means it is not a good system. Else, the whole world would be exercising it.
Then, your proposed Bill says that the Lokpal will be selected by Bharat Ratna, Nobel prize winners, and Magsaysay awardees. Sorry, I don’t think a Nobel or a Magsaysay confers on anyone the right to decide who rules me, the citizen. The entire methodology suggested for selecting the Lokpal is unrepresentative and unaccountable.
Anna, I know you are well-intentioned and I really admire what you have done against corruption over the years. In fact, your intentions are my inspirations, but it's the methodology I have a problem with. Any methodology that seeks to bypass the democratic process is scary to me.
A young concerned citizen

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