//What is the Real Goal of the Anna Movement?

What is the Real Goal of the Anna Movement?

8 nov 2011
by Rohini Hensman

The Sangh Parivar has always wanted to overthrow the present constitution, and would also cheer on Anna’s declaration that he would be willing to go to war with Pakistan and fight to the death to ensure that Kashmir remains an integral part of India (regardless of what Kashmiris might want). Anna’s vision of a society ordered by caste hierarchy coincides with theirs. As Jyotirmaya Sharma observes perceptively, ’Hazare is the leader of “banal Hindutva” . . . What Hazare is knowingly or unknowingly doing is to become the informal recruitment centre for the harder versions of Hindutva. By making “banal Hindutva” honourable, Hazare has begun the process of making the harder versions of Hindutva more acceptable and legitimate. The collateral damage . . . will be Indian democracy.’ [23]

This does not mean that there is no rivalry between Anna and the Sangh Parivar. Hazare has been unhappy with the RSS for trying to steal his thunder with their claims to have mobilised people for his movement, while the RSS has objected to the involvement of minorities in the anti-corruption movement. But they need each other. It is clear to the RSS that the issue of a Ram temple no longer has popular resonance, and Advani’s yatra has fallen flat because everybody knows that the BJP is mired in corruption; they need Anna’s clean image to win them votes. On the other side, Anna does not have the cadre to mobilise crowds, nor does he have a party machine that can win elections and instal him as the head of a Jan Lokpal. They have to work together, and they do. It was clear from the beginning that their agendas converged, and we can now identify the precise point at which their goals meet: the Indian version of a fascist state, a Hindu Rashtra, with a Jan Lokpal that will incorporate members of Team Anna: ’the viewpoint that Anna and by extension Kejriwal represent is the same simplistic and ill-thought-out rightwing nationalism of the Sangh which has no space for the Constitution or the liberal values it embodies…Through the twentieth century, this combination—a claim to efficient governance, a mythic father or motherland, a contempt for a certain section of people—has been the mark of fascism.’ [24]

Averting the danger of fascism

In this situation, the government has the primary responsibility to counteract the danger represented by both the Anna movement and the Sangh Parivar. If it enacts a strong Lokpal Bill and supplementary legislation, people like Justice Hegde, whose only interest in the movement is to curb corruption, would be satisfied. But not Hazare, Kejriwal, Bedi and others, whose agenda is regime change and might campaign against Congress on the pretext that the bill that has been passed is not their Jan Lokpal Bill. Counteracting this would require Congress spokespersons involved in public debates on the issue to come out with a critique of the JLB, drawing on what has been said by members of the NCPRI, legal scholars like Usha Ramanathan, and others.

However, even this is not enough. Any government committed to secularism has to act far more decisively to clamp down on the perpetrators of communal pogroms and Hindutva terrorist attacks, and especially to root out elements in the police, intelligence agencies, investigative agencies, bureaucracy, and army (Lt. Col. Purohit cannot be an exception) who are complicit in these attacks. Both terrorist violence and infiltration of the state apparatus are typical of the ways in which fascism ensconces itself, and unless action is taken now, it could be too late. In this context, the passing of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill is a priority that the UPA simply has not taken seriously enough. If certain groups in society do not enjoy equal protection of the law, special measures are required to ensure that they do so. Of course the BJP will cry foul, but surely those within Congress who have been pushing for the bill have enough intellectual resources at their disposal to distinguish between Hinduism and Hindutva, and to point out that this is not the first time that legislation to protect vulnerable sections of the population has been passed?

However, the struggle against fascism cannot possibly be won if it is left to the government alone; members of civil society too have to be involved, and those on the Left have a special responsibility in this regard. This brings us to a disturbing question: what are people like Prashant Bhushan and Medha Patkar doing in a team that includes such right-wing elements? Conventional wisdom would have it that they are there to push the movement to the Left, but it does not seem to have moved an inch in that direction. Part of the answer lies in the authoritarianism that is an integral part of the politics of a large part of the Left. For example, Bhushan advocates plebiscites as a means of achieving a ‘participatory democracy’ that is more advanced than the representative democracy embodied in parliament, but does he know that Hitler carried out six plebiscites between 1933 and 1938? A plebiscite on the Lokpal Bill would in fact be less democratic than the process of public consultation that has taken place and a debate in parliament.

This is only one instance of a more general malady afflicting a section of the Left: a kind of political dyslexia that renders them incapable of distinguishing left from right. Thus instead of pushing the government to present and enact the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill speedily, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) effectively gangs up with the Right to sabotage it by raising spurious objections; insisting, for example, that it should cover only victims of communal violence and not victims of other forms of targeted violence. How would victims of communal violence lose if the bill covers other victims of targeted violence? And who but the perpetrators of violence would gain if the bill fails to be passed? Which side are they on?

FULL TEXT HERE: http://www.sacw.net/article2373.html

(sacw.net – 7 November 2011)