-Dev Ankur Wadhawan
Consider the scene: The stage, Delhi’s Historic Ram Leela Maidan. A 76 – year old man fighting an epic battle. His last one? Perhaps. His wish: to eradicate corruption by bringing about systemic changes. Changes that force corrupt politicians and bureaucrats down on their knees and shut all escape routes for them. The man, flanked among many others, by two lieutenants he trusted the most. Two individuals he believed will never let him down. Both of whom proclaimed it to be a do or die mission. The Anti – Corruption movement was alive and kicking. Or so, we were led to believe!!
Mr. Hazare, you were PLAYED. And How! By the same people you entrusted with carrying the movement forward. One of them now warms the chair of Delhi’s Chief Minister, showing scant regard for inner democracy, having quelled formidable voices holding contrarian views from within his fold, conveniently overlooking the need for a strong Anti – Corruption watchdog and tom – tomming about few actions taken by his Government in as brazen a manner as any. The other’s journey has been as unremarkable as it gets. From the one who championed the cause and donned the role of Anti – Establishment crusader, to being a political stooge who hugely compromised yet lost Delhi Elections miserably, to being a pliant Government appointee, at the mercy of an Establishment that does not favour dissent in any form.
What a charade itâ€™s been! Their journey, from the annals of Ram Leela Maidan to the corridors of power, has been a huge let – down, a disappointment of epic proportions. In both cases, mind you, personal ambitions overtook the cause of the erstwhile movement, in the process hoodwinking millions who so sincerely believed that, at last, change is in the offing.
We all remember the time, don’t we! The year, 2013. Summer was still young and passions were running at an all time high. Something was about to give in. The evil powers, we were told, will cave in. And a new dawn will take over, bringing an end to the curse of corruption and all associated evils that hit right at the foundations of our system.
The youth, the employed, the employable yet unemployed, the old, the housewives, all of them believed it to be a turning point. Thousands of workers, homemakers used to turn up, some even after performing a day’s job in office or at home, sincerely believing that this was a nation’s call to her people, a call of duty, as it may. They came out of their homes and thronged the streets and the venue to the clarion calls that rose from the ramparts of Ram Leela Maidan. The urge to get oneself counted. To effect the change. To be the change that we all hoped to witness one day. Something had to give in. Enough is enough was the dominant view. Corruption, the all – pervasive evil, was killing any chances of India turning into a vibrant country where everyone can sincerely dream of a bright future and opportunity to fulfill that dream honestly.
Fast forward to the present. The year, 2016. To all those who made themselves available as genuine crusaders, being there when the chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai had an air of innocence to them, braving that scorching summer heat, believing themselves to be as much a part of change and not just witnessing it, thinking that they were laying foundations of a corruption – free India, the unambiguous message that goes out is this: You, my dear, have been fooled. You all have been fooled!
But the joke that the two played on the old man who came from Ralegan Siddhi has been the most cruel! The image of a Kiran Bedi, and a short – heighted, Kurta Payjama – clad IIT alumnus, on either side of a fasting Anna, waving the national tricolor from the stage at Ram Leela Maidan, lampooning, mocking politicians perveived as corrupt, can now evoke nausea ad infinitum. The former Delhi cop had jumped onto the Anti – Corruption crusade wanting us to believe that she is fed up with the system. That she, and the movement is against the corrupt and their ilk and the very system that they infest and which, in turn, helps them breed. The need for an effective Jan Lokpal, we were told, was urgent and imperative. We were told that she does not want to hanker for power. She claimed, in an apolitical movement, they are there to root out the forces that have helped the political parasites become ingrained within the system. But, look now! She has turned out to be just another scheming, conniving politician herself. Marred by political ineptitude, shown incapable of capturing power in Delhi on her own merit and through the democratic process, she is perfectly okay with being the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, a role that leaves her in virtually no position to take on powers running the show. The former top cop should now abandon all pretensions of fighting a corrupt system and being a crusader because power is what she has actually hankered for! For the genuine participants, the movement was the means of achieving bigger goal of cleaning the system. But its the likes of Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi or for that matter, former Army Chief, General ( Retired ) V K Singh, who seemingly have benefitted, coming into bigger prominence due to the fervour created by the movement while lakhs of foot soldiers feel cheated. While the former Army Chief fought the election and joined the Modi Government, Kejriwal and Bedi have taken on roles not many thought they would when the movement was at its peak.
One may ponder whats been the net – effect of that ‘Anti – Establishment, Anti – Corruption, Pro – People’ crusade. Well, it helped some of its ‘Crusaders’ in their self – serving ways! Apart from, of course, helping a regime change at the Centre, instaling a Government which believes more in managing its perceived image rather than bringing about any real changes.