Political AAP hid behind apolitical IAC? – S. Gurumurthy

S. Gurumurthy“Kejriwal’s flip-flop-flip on almost every issue of principle made me feel that he is not what he professes to be. He said he would not contest elections, but he did. He said he wouldn’t ally with the Congress, but he did. He said the AAP wouldn’t form the government, but it did. He said he wouldn’t hold any office, but he does. He said he would act against Sheila Dixit within seven days of assuming power, but did not.” – S. Gurumurthy 

Baba Ramdev with Arvind Kejriwal, Gopal Rai, Manish Sisodia and Anna Hazare“Arvindji, if you reject both ruling and Opposition parties as two sides of the same coin, you will eventually form a political party of your own, unless of course you work for a revolution to overthrow the system.”

This was how my meeting with Arvind Kejriwal ended. Kejriwal responded that he would never ever enter politics. That was a couple of days before the famous August 20, 2011 fast of Anna Hazare at Ramlila Madian. We never met before or later. He met me at the instance of a spiritual leader whom I hold in high esteem. He had advised Kejriwal to meet me to know how the movements against corruption in high places — in which I was involved as part of the Indian Express group in the 1970s and 1980s — were carried on for long periods.

The meeting took place at the Indian Express guest house at Sarvoday Enclave in New Delhi.

A common friend, Darshak Hathi, had accompanied Kejriwal. Darshak was part of India Against Corruption (IAC) team in its critical work of drafting the Lok Pal Bill, of meeting the Prime Minister and other ministers. He was also instrumental in mobilising the Art of Living volunteers who were initially IAC’s backbone. Darshak belongs to a respected political family, that of Jaishuklal Hathi, a former Union minister. Darshak is now the international director of Art of Living in Bangalore. He was witness to our dialogue which went on for almost two hours.

I told Kejriwal that all anti-corruption movements were political. They were invariably against the ruling party’s corruption, co-opting the Opposition parties in the fight. I cited the examples of the Bihar movement, the Nav Nirman movement and the movement against Rajiv Gandhi over the Bofors pay-off — which led to the defeat of corrupt regimes. I told him that the only way corruption could be fought was to punish the corrupt politicians by defeating them in elections.

A movement to establish honesty in politics is impractical. The movement for the Lok Pal Bill aimed at a better law to punish the corrupt, but overlooked the issue of the unprecedented and ongoing corruption of the ruling party. I also told him that for an anti-corruption movement to succeed, the first requirement was a leadership which could bring all anti-establishment forces to fight the ruling party’s corruption.

Arvind Kejriwal is Delhi's Chief MinisterKejriwal’s short reply was that such movements proved futile as corruption had continued even thereafter. He insisted that a movement to clean the political system was needed. I asked him whether he was seeding a revolution. Responding theoretically, he said that he was mobilising people’s power to correct the system. I moved to the next point and said the unflinching support of one media outlet willing to risk its interests was needed — like the Indian Express which actually led the anti-corruption battles. Kejriwal responded that he had the support of the entire media. I told him that the media as a whole could not be trusted to support an agitation for long and they would soon get divided. So relying on the disparate media might prove dangerous.

He then named a media group which had promised total support to him.(Later I checked up with them. They confirmed they were sympathetic to IAC but wouldn’t back them like Ramnath Goenka who would put his last penny in a fight.)

I went on and told Kejriwal that there could not be an effective anti-corruption movement without openly targeting the corrupt person. The IAC, instead of naming and fighting the blatantly corrupt rulers, was actually helping them by giving them opportunity to escape the blame by supporting the Bill and thus claiming to be clean! In the process, they had also gained the time they needed. Worse still, IAC was blaming all politicians – clubbing and equating those who had looted the country of lakhs of crores with, to say, pickpockets. In effect IAC was bailing out the Congress which was virtually shameless about corruption.

At that point Arvind said the movement had gone too far into the apolitical line. I said that, having taken up a political issue, to say that IAC would handle it apolitically, was a contradiction. Anna’s apolitical stature could bring together the various shades of Opposition, like JP did.

Kejriwal then asked me pointedly, given where he stood, what should be done. I suggested to him that IAC should course-correct itself. When Anna would sit on a fast on August 20, the leaders of the Opposition parties might come and garland him and he may ask them to sit with him on the stage for the day. That would signal to the public who the buccaneers were.

Kejriwal responded that they could come and garland Anna but they should sit in the audience. I said that was too much, as they had also spent decades in public life and some of them had maintained standards through their life which today’s younger generation might find difficult to do. I noticed two things throughout.

Anna Hazare & Bharat MataKejriwal always took Anna’s name and said Anna would not agree for this or that. Next, he said that he could never cross Anna’s apolitical line. When I told him finally that he might himself have to form a political party to fight the issue politically, he asserted that he had no political ambition at all. I wished him well and the meeting ended. To be sure that I recollected the conversation correctly I had sent the gist of the dialogue to Darshak Hathi. He responded by his mail dated January 29, 2014: “This is perfect”.

I never reveal private conversations. I can vividly recall the personal meeting a Bofors pay-off accused had with Ramnath Goenka and me at the Express Towers in Mumbai in July 1989. He was accompanied by Mahesh Jethmalani. He clearly told us that if he opened his mouth the Prime Minister would have to go. Despite the fact that the Indian Express desperately needed proof on Bofors pay-off, we did not even think of publishing that incriminating but confidential statement. But there was nothing confidential about Kejriwal’s meeting or dialogue with me. We discussed only public issues. Yet I refrained from making the dialogue with Kejriwal public because it principally involved what I was telling him and also there was no appropriate context for that till AAP formed the government in Delhi.

Kejriwal’s flip-flop-flip on almost every issue of principle made me feel that he is not what he professes to be. He said he would not contest elections, but he did. He said he wouldn’t ally with the Congress, but he did. He said the AAP wouldn’t form the government, but it did. He said he wouldn’t hold any office, but he does. He said he would act against Sheila Dixit within seven days of assuming power, but did not. These flip-flop-flip made me recall what all he had told me. Several questions arose in my mind over his intent ab initio. Was he honestly pursuing apolitical agenda in IAC? Or was IAC just theatrical to co-opt the media and many respectable persons which gave unprecedented publicity and image to IAC and himself?

Was apolitical IAC just a strategy to lure guileless Anna and throw him out later? Would Kejriwal have deliberately used Anna knowing that a truly apolitical and undoubtedly innocent Anna would be useful but irrelevant if Kejriwal and his ambitious colleagues morphed IAC into the AAP? Where is the IAC agenda now, will he tell the nation? Was the political AAP always incubating in Kejriwal’s mind even as he was espousing apolitical IAC?

Arvind Kejriwal's Magic ShowKejriwal needs to tell the nation why and when did he think of snuffing out the IAC and giving birth to AAP. Unless he takes the country into confidence and explains what made him ditch Anna and why he formed the AAP after promising a million times that he would not enter politics, his political morality will barely equal that of any aam politician.

Unless he comes clean, he cannot and should not be trusted. What is the guarantee that the man who fooled his mentor Anna will not fool the people? – The New Indian Express, 3 February 2014

» S. Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues. Email: comment@gurumurthy.net

Team Anna’s funds and funders: An analysis – Krishen Kak

Krishen KakIs it coincidence that, for example, so much money has been given to the Kejriwala NGOs when the Kejriwalas are openly and rabidly anti-democratic? Is it coincidence that the Ford Foundation’s own country, for all its pro-democracy propaganda, has a history of propping up dictators all over the world? Has the Ford Foundation no agenda behind the money it doles out? It has given millions of rupees to Kejriwala NGOs. Do you seriously believe it expects nothing in return from them?” – Krishen Kak

Anna Hazare on fast at Ramlila Maidan.The Ramlila ground that had been spruced up at public cost for a private groups public tamasha, has now been cleaned up again at public cost. However, during the tamasha, while its principal nayak ostensibly fasted, his followers feasted – and questions were and are and continue to be asked about where the money came from, not just for the food and the festivity during the tamasha, but for all the expense to organize it and keep this going.

Inside the historic Maidan, the agitators had their appetite for agitation whetted by loads of puree-sabzi, chole-chawal, kadhi-chawal, cartons of biscuits, truck-loads of bananas, crates of water, soft drinks and nimbu pani. The Ramlila Maidan Bandara!In my two decade long career as reporter, I have not seen such felicitation for the delegates to any public rally of any political party. We repeatedly raised the question of funding of political rallies, I hope we all gather the courage to audit the expenditure incurred on the jamboree recently witnessed at Ramlila Maidan.

When I talk of audit, I just do not mean just auditing the well-kept account books of the organisations run by members of Team Anna, but those organisations which put up the public kitchens etc. It should be explained how come in a nation where crores fail to get two square meals a day, so much money was spent on food to keep an agitation going. Make public the names of these organisations and the names of the people behind them and vouch that the money spent by them was all clean, free of any taint.”[1]

Arvind Kumar Kejriwal“Well-kept account books”?

Earlier analyses established that the accounts for the Arvind Kejriwal-promoted IAC/PCRF omitted much more than they declared – and this from someone who not only has an income-tax background and who still has an intimate connection to the sarkari income-tax service, but who crusades for transparency and accountability in government. Indeed, his PCRF’s accounts that showed nothing after 31/3/09 continued that way till at least 29/8/11.[2]

Would Anna Hazare allow to public servants hauled up before his Jokepal the same excuse of “a mistake” he expects the public to accept for the corruption and illegalities exposed in his own NGOs?

Would Kejriwal allow to public servants hauled up before his Jokepal the same excuse of “oversight” he trotted out for the opacity of the accounts of his own NGOs?

Kiran Bedi fancies the ghunghat as a dramatic prop. Like the ghunghat that coyly conceals, the Kejriwal and Bedi and(Medha) Patkar NGOs hide more than they show. And the earlier analyses showed the interesting connections to foreign and foreign-funded organizations of the Bedi, Patkar and (Prashant) Bhushan NGOs. This essay updates that with the Kejriwal NGOs.[3]

Arundhati RoyKejriwal accuses Indian policy of being dictated to by the World Bank. Arundhati Roy accuses the Kejriwalas of being led by a World Bank agenda, and funded by the Ford Foundation. And that brings us to the foreign hand at which the ruling party officially pointed.

Yes, indisputably there is a foreign hand. The experience of West-funded NGOs instigating so-called Flower/Coloured revolutions is too recent to ignore, especially in the destabilization and break-up of the Soviet Union. The Vigil book gives irrefutable data of Western money flowing into India to promote and support the anti-nation industry of many well-known “civil society activists,” including the ones Dr. N.S. Rajaram calls the “Sonia Gandhians”.

[This has been updated on http://www.vijayvaani.com/ and http://www.vigilonline.com/]

Our Western donor du jour, courtesy Arundhati Roy, is the US-based Ford Foundation (FF).[4] So, let us look at the Ford Foundation’s kripa in India.

Click on http://is.gd/xib9rF. It opens onto http://www.fordfoundation.org/grants/search. Open “Regions” and select “India, Nepal and Sri Lanka”. Continue down (below “Regions”) and tick “Include Non-Initiative Grants”. You’ll get a list of 320 grantees.

Even a cursory look will impress with the rivers of money that the Ford Foundation is pouring into the organizations it favours in our country.

Ford Foundation: The CIA's social and cultural front organisation.

I’ve picked just a few grantees, mainly connected in some way or other with this so-called “civil society war against corruption” and primarily from the FF-funded initiative in “Promoting Transparent, Effective and Accountable Government” and “Strengthening Civil Society”. There are some others too but, really, the entire list merits study, especially the FF interest in tribal communities and areas (where, as it happens, there is a powerful Christian conversion apparatus at work).[5]

1. AMAN Public Charitable Trust $450,000 (2008, 2010) (The same mentioned in Appendix 11 of the Vigil book; it gets influential Indian and foreign support – http://www.amanpanchayat.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=374).

2. Centre for Budget Governance and Accountability $650,000 (2007, 2010) (Governing Board includes Sandeep Dikshit, MP, who was active in the negotiations to get Hazare back to the dining table – http://www.cbgaindia.org/about_board.php).

3. Centre for Communication and Development Studies $480,000 (2007, 2010) (Headed by John Samuel, with links to National Centre for Advocacy Studies. He has helped to establish more than 10 organisations and networks at the national and international level, including the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability above, Social Watch India, Asia Media Forum and CCDS – http://www.ccds.in/team.htm . He has links to IAC founder-member Devinder Sharma, Binu Thomas formerly of ActionAid, and Kalpana Sharma of The Hindu – http://infochangeindia.org/about-us.html).

4. Centre for Policy Research (CPR) $687,100 (2008, 2009, 2010) (A strong presence of former bureaucrats; president is Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta http://www.cprindia.org/page/governing-body).

5. Centre for Study of Society and Secularism $301,000 (2007, 2009) (Headed by Asghar Ali Engineer; other secular worthies include Ram Puniyani, who features in http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=956&Itemid=1&limit=1&limitstart=10 and is linked to Harsh Mander’s ANHAD – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Puniyani, and Admiral Ramdas who features prominently in the Vigil book – http://www.csss-isla.com/governingbody.htmCSSS’ listed donors are mainly American, German, Dutch – and the notorious ActionAid – http://www.csss-isla.com/ourdonors.htm).

6. Centre for the Study of Developing Societies $599,000 (2008) (Its “faculty” includes Ashish Nandy, Madhu Kishwar, Yogendra Yadav – http://www.csds.in/faculty.htm, and it sponsored a very controversial seminar on J&K at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, New Delhi).

8. Dalit Foundation (DF) $3,510,000 (2007, 2008)

9. Christian Dalit Liberation Movement $400,000 (2008, 2010)

10. Indian Institute of Dalit Studies $450,000 (2007, 2010). (Note that Udit Raj, national chairman, All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, called “the ongoing protest against corruption by Anna Hazare unconstitutional … and a Bahujan Lokpal Bill would soon be presented to the Parliament’s Standing Committee, which will be representative of Dalits, Muslims and other minority communities” – “’Save reservation’ rally”, The Hindu, Delhi, Aug 24, 2011, p.3; http://theindianawaaz.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3618&catid=12&Itemid=63http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/article2391133.ece. Already there are strong demands for caste- and religion-based reservations in the Lokpal system – http://www.dailypioneer.com/city/3083-sharad-yadav-paswan-spar-over-anna-stir.html).

11. Council for Social Development $300,000 (2007) (Headed by former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey; includes R.K. Pachauri, Amit Bhaduri and has influential links to government and government NGOs – http://www.csdindia.org/our-people/management/general-body-gb).

12. Jagori Rural $100,000 (2008) (Kamla Bhasin is a founder and also a trustee of Harsh Mander’s ANHAD. Jagori’s Executive Committee includes Martin Macwan who features in the Vigil book – http://jagori.org/about-jagori/our-team/http://www.anhadin.net/article1.html).

13. Jamia Millia Islamia $150,000 (2009)

14. Jawaharlal Nehru University $400,000 (2010)

15. Kabir $397,000 (2008, 2011) (Has Manish Sisodia as founding-member – http://www.kabir.org.in/indexx.htmand Kejriwal in its Governing Body – http://www.kabir.org.in/indexx.htm. Has received crores from foreign agencies – http://beyondheadlines.in/2011/08/it%E2%80%99s-official-%E2%80%93-us-based-ford-foundation-funding-anna%E2%80%99s-movement ).

16. National Centre for Advocacy Studies $435,000 (2008, 2011)  (http://www.ncasindia.org/ doesn’t tell you who founded it – John Samuel? – and who heads it, but its “partners” include the Aman Trust (above), the Centre for Social Justice whose trustees include Upendra Baxi, Vijay Parmar of Janvikas (also a Ford Foundation grantee – $200,000 in 2007), Syeda Hameed of the Planning Commission, and retired high court judge RA Mehta – http://www.centreforsocialjustice.net/board.html).

17. National Foundation for India $2,500,000 (2007) (This features in Appendix 11 of the Vigil book; its trustees in 2006 included N Ram of The Hindu, Syeda Hameed, Mallika Sarabhai, an FF representative – and Mr. Manmohan Singh! It records that “The Ford Foundation provided pioneering support to set up NFI as an independent Indian Foundation to promote civil society action and public deliberation for social change.” – http://www.nfi.org.in/index.php/about-nfi. Its website includes Ratan Tata and S.P. Godrej amongst its former trustees and there is no longer specific mention of an FF representative – http://www.nfi.org.in/index.php/trustees . Its current trustees include Nirmala Lakshman of The Hindu, former bureaucrat Probir Sen who was also managing director of Air India, Mihir Shah of the Planning Commission, and Ramchandra Guha – http://www.nfi.org.in/index.php/trustees/current ).

18. National Social Watch $200,000 (2010) (http://socialwatchindia.net/about-us/ about-us is flowery prose but no names).

19. OXFAM India $200,000 (2010) (Features in Appendix 11 of the Vigil book; receives huge amounts from the British government as a tool of British foreign policy in India).

20. People’s Education and Rights Trust (PERT) $250,000 (2009) (http://pertindia.org/ ; primary supporter is a Christian “international development agency” called Signpost International http://www.signpost-international.org/cms/frontend/viewpage.php?id=58 ).

21. Sabrang Trust $250,000 (2009) (A Teesta Setalvad enterprise. Google “Sabrang Trust” – you get Sabrang Communications which calls itself Trust at http://www.sabrang.com/museum.htm but then is a private limited company at the same website at http://www.sabrang.com/aboutus.htm. The Trust is claimed to have been founded in 1933 – http://www.sabrang.com/auction/pdf/pg%201%20to%2013.pdf.

The private limited company is also claimed to have been founded in 1933 – http://www.karmayog.org/nonprofits/nposubcatdisplay.asp?r=219&catid=35&loc=mumbai&PageNo=28 which also makes the Trust c/o Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

There’s also http://www.sabrang.com/ which, in its “About Us”, says nothing about a Trust. Setalvad does this kind of one organization fronting for another with her CJP too – http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=305; so does Harsh Mander in fundraising for the US-based Indian Muslim Relief Committee/Indian Muslim Relief and Charities – Appendix 11 of the Vigil book).

22. Society for Participatory Research in Asia $400,000 (2007, 2010) (Headed by Rajesh Tandon who features in Appendix 11 of the Vigil book. Its Governing Board includes Lalita Ramdas and Bibek Debroy – http://pria.org/en/mi-about-pria/4-a-governing-board; has extensive and very influential foreign support – http://www.pria.org/en/c-strategic-partners).

23. South Asia Centre for Policy Studies $153,603 (2010) (Lists partners that include CPR above – http://www.saceps.org/content.php?function=partner_institution; its executive committee includes Muchkund Dubey as co-chair – http://www.saceps.org/content.php?function=executive_committeeAmartya Sen and Gowher Rizvi (former FF head in India) are international advisors – http://www.saceps.org/content.php?function=international_advisors).

And this is just a sample. And this is just one foreign donor.

George & JesusNote the interconnections. It is a hunter’s net cast over our nation. Are we to believe it is out of blessed altruism that all these fortunes from abroad are being poured into Kejriwala and associated coffers? Are we to be so naïve as to forget about the realpolitik of Western foreign policy?

To take just this Ford Foundation, is it sheer coincidence that it gives such vast amounts in tribal areas where there is powerful Christian evangelism? Have we already forgotten the missionary-colonial policy of divide-and-rule to which we were subject? Never heard of the US government-supported Joshua Project?[6]

Ford Foundation LogoIs it coincidence that, for example, so much money has been given to the Kejriwala NGOs when the Kejriwalas are openly and rabidly anti-democratic?[7] Is it coincidence that the Ford Foundation’s own country, for all its pro-democracy propaganda, has a history of propping up dictators all over the world? Has the Ford Foundation no agenda behind the money it doles out? It has given millions of rupees to Kejriwala NGOs. Do you seriously believe it expects nothing in return from them?[8]

Recall the saying: “He who pays the piper calls the tune”. Missionary-neocolonial foreign agencies pay and the Kejriwalas and Sonia Gandhians sing (and dance) to the foreign tune.

This tune is called the destabilizing and break-up of our nation.

Recall the insistence of the Kejriwalas on giving foreigners a veto power in the selection of our country’s Lokpal. That their Jan Lokpal be called the Jan Fordpal is therefore a comment not far off the mark![9] 

Vinod RaiCaveat – certainly corruption must be battled. But, if we believe in democracy, then it must be fought by strengthening the institutions of our democracy, not undermining them. “There are three very public figures who are fighting corruption at three different levels and in three different ways. One does it as head of the administration he heads. The second does it by arousing mass awareness against (particularly, black money) corruption [janajagruti – till regrettably he over-reached himself]. The third does it by using the judicial route to enforce the anti-corruption law. All three are doing it from within a parliamentary democracy – and doing it effectively. I support that initiative” – my post dt. 23/4/11 at  http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1743.

Arun DasTailpiece

♦ For all his many, much-touted virtues, Anna Hazare (and Team Anna) had little time and compassion for those who took the threatened fast-unto-death seriously. In village Janapanka, Patna, a young and emotional Arun Das died fasting on 24 August. Team Anna expressed no regret. He hailed from Kamira village, district Boudh, Odisha. Worse, as youthful enthusiasts following the Anna fast noted, no formal notice was taken of his death and the report quickly vanished from the IAC update, though the IAC page on Facebook and @Janlokpal on Twitter had both announced the death.

Arun Das was actually a follower of Baba Ramdev, and it was the Yoga Guru who first announced his death from Ramlila Maidan. Baba’s organisation also made a formal announcement. IAC followed on Facebook and Twitter, and then lapsed into inexplicable silence.

See http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1943.

See http://aamjanata.com/arun-das-dies-at-janapanka-village-while-fasting-for-jan-lokpal/.

Dinesh Yadan♦ A similar amnesia occurred in the case of Dinesh Yadav who, shouting pro-Hazare slogans, burnt himself alive at Kisan Ghat, Delhi – http://in.news.yahoo.com/disbelief-praise-fear-dinesh-yadavs-village-120413198.html.

He was survived by his wife and five children.

Team Anna expressed no regret. Team Anna, for all its foreign resources, is not known to have offered any support to the families of Arun Das and Dinesh Yadav.

Rajbala Malik♦ Contrast this with the case of Rajbala Malik, a victim of police brutality at Ramlila Maidan in the wee hours of June 4, 2011. As soon as his externment order from Delhi ended, Baba Ramdev visited Rajbala in hospital and offered all assistance by his Delhi Mahila Patanjali Yoga Samiti. “All medical expenses of Rajbala and other people injured during police action at Ramila Maidan will be borne by the Patanjali,” said Ramdev – http://expressbuzz.com/topnews/pm-politically-dishonest-baba-ramdev/281995.html .

Notes

1. More than 144 metric tonnes of waste daily – http://in.news.yahoo.com/much-garbage-remove-ramlila-ground-little-time-120123301.html. During both fasts, at night Hazare always retired from the public gaze, and government doctors, notwithstanding a Supreme Court direction, were not allowed by Team Anna to examine him – http://www.scoopnews.in/det.aspx?  12430;  http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1940. Siddharth Mishra, http://www.dailypioneer.com/364266/Living-in-times-of-national-disorder.html .

2. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2412658.ece?homepage=true. “It’s also part of the reason why the discourse has had almost no shades of grey. Where it’s turned into an “either you are with us or against us” space and the room for anyone to manoeuvre has been increasingly difficult… this team has become less and less tolerant of dissent. You cannot ask questions like — what about the right of Parliamentarians who represent the country, to choose whether they want this version of the Bill or not?… is the right to say “No, we disagree”, no longer available?….. if no political party is willing to support the Jan Lokpal Bill outright, does that mean the Parliament must be cast aside … Parliament and the rest of India be damned” – Revati Laul, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne030911coverstory3.asp . Note the characteristically abrahamist attitude of Team Anna – Luke 11.23, Matt 12.30.

The earlier analyses are in Jai ho, Jan Jokepal, http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1513&Itmid=1 (this appeared on June 15, 2011 and seems to have introduced “Jokepal” to the public vocabulary); “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”, http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1743; The ox calling the donkey horned : Il bue che dà del cornuto all’asino, http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1750; “A Frankenstein’s monster that will devour all of us”, http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1774; “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”, http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1816

3. http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1513&Itemid=1;

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2412658.ece?homepage=true; http://www.indianexpress.com/news/half-of-our-mps-anpadh-ganwaar-some-gems-from-very-civil-society/837886/ and Rakesh Ranjan/Vikash Lata, “Parliament, MPs mocked, berated at Ramlila Maidan” (The Pioneer, Aug 27, 2011, p.1, the print edition – the web edition omits most of the colourful details, but you can get their flavour from http://www.dailypioneer.com/363717/Hysterical-histrionics.html).

4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tqaLMOgPH0&feature=share; http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2412518.ece?homepage=true; http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2379704.ece; http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08-17/india/29896225_1_anna-hazare-exercise-appropriate-democratic-restraint-anti-graft-movement.

The Vigil book is Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak, eds., “NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry” (Chennai: Vigil Public Opinion Forum, 2nd edn, 2007), excerpts at http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=843&Itemid=109.

Of course, it is neither here nor there that Roy herself is a financial beneficiary of profits of the UK-based Booker Prize Trading Ltd and of the US-based Lannan Foundation that is funded from the ITT Corporation earnings of the late J. Patrick Lannan, Sr – http://www.themanbookerprize.com/legal; http://www.nytimes.com/1983/09/27/obituaries/j-patrick-lannan-ex-director-of-itt-and-backer-of-arts.html.

5. http://www.fordfoundation.org/about-us/grant-makers#. There are other grantees too but, really, the entire list merits study, especially the FF interest in tribal communities and areas (where, as it happens, there is a powerful Christian conversion apparatus at work).

6. Mark 13.10; Luke 12.51-52; Rev 10.15, 15.4; Luke 19.27 – see http://www.vigilonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=55 read with V K Shashikumar, http://www.tehelka.com/story_main.asp?filename=ts013004shashi.asp.

7. This has been noted in the earlier analyses. See also “Anna is not India nor India Anna” (editorial, http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article2374669.ece) which quotes Kiran Bedi as claiming, “Anna is India and India is Anna”; “The Government has to either pass the Jan Lokpal Bill or go. There is no alternative” – Anna Hazare, http://www.dailypioneer.com/362548/Pass-Jan-Lokpal-Bill-or-face-music-Anna.html; “I have made the decision of my life. It is up to the government to pass the (Jan Lokpal) bill. If it is not passed in this session, I will continue my fast till my last breath.” – Anna Hazare, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08-20/india/29908807_1_team-anna-lokpal-bill-anna-hazare.

Recall MK Gandhi’s bold declaration that he would allow Partition only over his dead body. He then broke his word. Likewise, the current media-manufactured mahatma, after a like bold declaration, broke his word. There was at least one Indian who took Gandhi’s threatened fasts-unto-death seriously – and himself fasting too, died – B Punj, “Remember Jatindra Nath Das?” The Pioneer, Sept 10, 2004 and at  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/roots/message/2647. Gandhi expressed no regret.

8. Recall the classic analysis by Marcel Mauss of the gift – the giving, the receiving, and the obligation to reciprocate.

9. s.5(d), (f) and (i) read with the proviso to s.7(i) http://www.annahazare.org/pdf/Jan%20lokpal%20bill%20by%20Expert%20(Eng).pdf – “Indian origin” does not exclude foreign citizens, and one Bharat Ratna awardee is a foreign citizen: just three of these foreigners need to gang up to exercise their veto ; post dt.2/9/11 by Ranjit at http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1943 . – Vijayvaani, New Delhi, 5 Sept. 2011

» The author is a retired civil servant and co-editor of “NGOs, Activists & Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry” (Chennai: Vigil Public Opinion Forum, 2007)

Sonia, Anna and the “Fakepal” drama – B.R. Haran

Journalist Logo“The only silver lining of the five month long Lokpal drama was that Generation Next is ready to hit the streets for the national good. Their anger against the abuse of democracy and concern for the nation is genuine. Their mistake is that they have misplaced their faith on an undeserving Team Anna. And they were deceived by a third-rate media.” – B.R. Haran

Anna HazareThere are many reasons for the Anna Hazare drama at Ramlila Maidan, which finally concluded with the government getting the fast called off on a mere verbal assurance to “look sympathetically” at the demands made.

One of the deeper reasons was the UPA’s colossal corruption which caused such public revulsion that the Congress High Command realized the need to allow the public to ventilate its grievances and cool off. The leadership was unnerved by a couple of developments:

– The nationwide surge created by a rustic Yoga Guru against corruption and black money

– The CAG report on 2G Spectrum

– The CAG expose on the Commowealth Games

– The uproar over the Adarsh Housing scam

– Dr Subramanian Swamy’s consistency in legally fighting the UPA government

– and the Supreme Court’s supervision of CBI investigations as a consequence of it

– Various press briefings by Dr. Swamy on the involvement of Sonia Gandhi’s family and other bigwigs of the Congress party in various scams

– Robert Vadra’s shenanigans getting exposed through the internet

– Frequent foot-in-mouth blabbering of Rahul Gandhi, exposing his stupidity and ignorance

– Manmohan Singh’s change of attitude and assertion of authority

Sonia Gandhi & Rahul GandhiThe motives behind the drama

Fearing the convergence of RSS, Baba Ramdev and Subramanian Swamy, Sonia Gandhi thought to script a drama to project herself and her family as morally superior, while achieving a number of objectives:

– Hijack the anti-corruption movement from Baba Ramdev, dilute and suppress it and make him ineffective

– Create problems for the Prime Minister so he vacates the seat for “junior” before his stupidity and incompetence exposes him totally

– Give a communal twist to the anti-corruption movement by pitching Anna Hazare against Baba Ramdev and the RSS

– Divert attention of the people towards “Hindu terror” with the help of minions like Digvijay and Chidambaram. Keep the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill ready to strike at the appropriate time, say, after coronation of Rahul Gandhi as prime minister.

ACT I

The coterie prepared the screenplay and script with help of selected NGO cronies. The four decade old “Lokpal Bill” was resurrected to serve the purpose!

– Arvind Kejriwal, an NGO person and friend of Sonia’s NAC, goes to Maharashtra and meets the aged (and publicity crazy) Anna Hazare and brings him to Delhi to join Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption movement. Maoist sympathizer and Congress crony Agnivesh and NGO activist Kiran Bedi jump onto the bandwagon

– Encouraged and motivated by the NGO activists, Anna Hazare sits on a fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar (April 2011). The “secular” media, which completely blacked out Baba Ramdev’s huge public campaigns, leaps into hyper mode, makes a hero out of the ordinary self-styled Gandhian, who was a non-entity outside Maharashtra

– Anna’s cronies scoot Uma Bharati out of the venue – a “secular” act!

– As per script, Anna takes on Manmohan Singh, but exchanges pleasantries with Sonia Gandhi through letters. Sonia cajoles Anna and makes Manmohan government call him to the negotiating table

– Anna withdraws his agitation within four days, AFTER removing the Bharat Mata portrait from the backdrop on his stage. This removes the communal taint he acquired when he accepted a letter of support from the RSS, and establishes his “secular” credentials.

ACT II

– Anna travels as planned by the anti-nation industry (thanks to the term coined by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak), I mean NGOs. Visits Ahmedabad, joins ‘secular’ brigade of Mallika Sarabhai, Medha Patkar, et al and throws mud on Modi and his government, thereby underlining his secular credentials

– Negotiations start between Anna & co and Government to draft the Lokpal Bill. Digvijay continues his tirade against Baba Ramdev and RSS and teases Anna, which complains to Mother Superior … she assures action….

– As the heat of the 2G investigation spreads along with Baba Ramdev’s continuous campaigns against black money, the Empress and heir stealthily leave for Europe, including Switzerland, in the guise of vacation.

Indian MediaBeyond the script

The media’s hype and sudden “Mahatmahood” for Anna didn’t affect Baba Ramdev. Some events, not anticipated by Sonia and her NGO cronies, unfold quickly:

– Baba Ramdev continues his campaign and organizes a massive hunger protest at Ramlila Maidan. As there was no ready-made script for this unexpected development, Anna & co extend lip service support. Anna warns Baba not to allow leaders of Hindu organizations to join him

– A changed and assertive Prime Minister sends a team of ministers to negotiate with Baba Ramdev and convince him to withdraw the agitation.

– Agitated by this move, the Empress orders a clampdown on Ramdev and his devotees through the ever pliable Home Minister

– Police use teargas and lathi charge on sleeping devotees and drives them out of Ramlila Maidan in the dark of night. Hundreds are injured; one woman is still critical.

– Police grabs Ramdev and packs him off to Haridwar. The Home minister says Delhi Police action on its own!

– Anna & co expresses token outrage at the police brutality.

ACT III

– Negotiations between “Civil Society” (Team Anna) and Government fall apart

– Anna meets Sonia along with NGO activist Kejriwal; Sonia assures action

– Government commits it would introduce the Lokpal Bill in the monsoon session

– Anna meets opposition leaders, but deliberately forgets anti-corruption crusader Dr. Swamy

– Anna gives a deadline and says he would fast unto death from 16 August if government fails to introduce a strong Lokpal Bill

ACT IV

– The monsoon session begins. Sonia secretly leaves for USA (so we are told), this time on (alleged) medical grounds

– Government falters, but manages to table Lokpal Bill in Parliament. Anna ups the ante; burns the draft bill tabled in Parliament as a mark of protest

– Digvijay conspicuously remains silent. Congress spokesperson heaps abuse on Anna & co.; Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni join issue. Rahul enters scene, as scripted, and controls his party men

– Anna decides to sit on fast as planned. Police refuses Jantar Mantar, but offers JP Park.

– Anna accepts offer, but the Delhi police put conditions. Anna refuses; police cancel the permission

– Prime Minister unfurls national flag at Red fort. Adamant Anna vows to sit on fast at JP Park the next day. He suddenly visits Rajghat and meditates for three hours

– As per script, Home Minister orders detention of Anna & co before he leaves for fast venue. Police takes Anna to an undisclosed destination and later in the evening puts him in Tihar jail. Chidambaram again says Delhi Police acted on its own! It is not clear if the PM was kept in the loop by the Home Minister

– Anna continues fast while backroom parleys go on between Team Anna and government. The NGO cronies of NAC play the job of mediators

– Rahul steps in, as scripted, and asks Government to release Anna. Anna readily accepts a 15-day schedule at Ramlila Maidan

– Government takes care of Anna’s security and health concerns by spending lots of PUBLIC money. ‘Secular’ media plays its role to perfection making a “Mahatma” out of “Maharashtra’s Anna”

– Parliamentary Standing Committee which is seized of the matter says no time limit can be specified

– Sonia’s cronies in NAC, Harsh Mander and Aruna Roy, take on Anna crowd. Aruna Roy comes out with another draft Lokpal bill!

Baba RamdevCaught in own quagmire

Suddenly, the script went obsolete due to unforeseen circumstances. The “secular” media overplayed its role, resulting in nationwide surge of support which no one, including Sonia, Anna and the anti-national NGO industry anticipated. The drama conceived for the purposes of silencing Baba Ramdev and creating problems for the Prime Minister fell flat.

Baba Ramdev is courageously facing Congress-orchestrated investigations in his financial affairs. He came all the way to Tihar to meet Anna and extend support, to the utter discomfiture of Sonia & co. Apart from ABVP, Baba Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Andolan also mobilized crowds for Anna Hazare. The plot to create problems for the Prime Minister failed and Sonia & Co were caught in their own trap.

Suddenly the “actors” didn’t know how to end the drama! They were totally confused, and as things progressed, Ramlila Maidan became a theatre of the absurd. The government was rigid one day, crawled the next; Anna appealed for peace one day but instigated people the next day; Team Anna had problems within and spoke in different voices; the opposition parties were clueless.

The government, which forcefully removed Baba Ramdev and his followers from the Ramlila Maidan, could not do the same to Anna as he was Sonia’s man! Having come back to square one within a week, the comedy became a tragedy for the Government, Team Anna, the Opposition and Sonia Gandhi. And for the people of India.

When thousands of people took part genuinely in the protests against corruption in major cities and towns, under the assumption that Anna would vanquish the monster called corruption, those “actors” in the capital were “playing” with the sentiments and feelings of the people. The sad fact was that the blind followers of Anna the neo-Gandhi never realized he was overacting, blackmailing the government and making a mockery of democracy.

As the drama seemed going out of control, the producers (Sonia & Co) realized they were in a soup. They could feel a wave across the nation against Congress! Fortunately for them, the BJP didn’t or rather refused to realize it.

Nitin GadkariBJP’s failure

At every given opportunity, Anna was rejecting RSS and BJP to project a secular image. But both RSS and BJP were openly supporting him, so it this was a strategy, it was a poorly executed one. The height of tamasha was Nitin Gadkari’s letter of support to Anna! When the party itself had supposedly drafted (or worked on) a better Lokpal bill draft, one could only wonder at Gadkari declaring Anna’s Jan Lokpal bill as the “basis” of discussion in parliament.

Knowing well that its student wing ABVP had played a stellar role in mobilizing the swelling supporters for Anna in many cities and towns, BJP failed to make use of it and create a favourable impression in the minds of the people. Earlier it failed to capitalize on Ramdev’s movement; now it failed to capitalize the Anna mania.

Rahul GandhiRahul exposed

As Team Anna began to worry about his health despite Anna projecting a confident face, the crown prince made a “timely” appearance again, probably on instructions from the empress. Rahul Gandhi came and “discussed” with the PM for one hour and went straight to Parliament to read a text prepared by one of his late father’s loyalists. It was supposed to be his I-am-ready-to-be-PM speech, overwhelming the Zero Hour, thanks to Speaker Meira Kumar. Sadly, it was panned by all who heard it – all Ramlila Maidan, and in Parliament during Saturday’s debate, where Rahul demonstrated his non-seriousness and callowness by doing the disappearing act.

Rahul’s speech was an open confrontation with Prime Minister Manmohan who had done a decent job the previous day to arrive at a near solution to the Anna issue with his ex-tempore speech in parliament. Rahul spoilt this by taking on Anna and sermonizing on democracy and secularism etc. He openly contradicted the spirit of Manmohan Singh’s speech, and vanished when he realized that he had impressed none. Even his baba brigade had a hard time trying to defend him.

Indian Parliament BuildingThe anticlimax

The national upsurge against corruption in general and UPA in particular, the deteriorating health of Anna, the deft handling of the issue by the political class, forced the producers of the drama to end it at the earliest opportunity. They now placed three conditions, namely, Citizen Charter, Lower Bureaucracy under Lokpal, and Lokayukta in all States, and conveyed their willingness to end Anna’s fast. Parliament, they said, should vote on a Resolution on these three issues.

But they failed to reckon with the tenacity of the political class. MPs rose to the occasion in unison, debated at length in a specially convened parliament session (where Rahul Gandhi disrespectfully and irresponsibly abstained), and came out with a Verbal Resolution conveying the “Sense of the House”.

Let us compare what Anna wanted before beginning his fast and what he got at the end:

– Anna wanted passage of Jan Lokpal, a clear time limit, inclusion of PM and Judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal, bypassing of Standing Committee, and finally a written commitment on all these things.

– What he got was a “Sense of the House” and he ended his fast!

So, what is that the Team Anna gained and how can the media trumpet it as a victory?

Indian MediaA few words for the youth

The only silver lining of the five month-long drama was that Generation Next is ready to hit the streets for national good. Their anger against the abuse of democracy and concern for the nation is genuine. Their mistake is that they have misplaced their faith on an undeserving team. And they were deceived by a third-rate media.

The youth of this country must understand the following facts:

– Mainstream media in India is supported by alien forces and works against national interest

– NGOs are an anti-national industry for they are funded by foreign powers with a hidden agenda of subjugating this nation

– Persons who flirt with NGO activists without condemning the scams and questioning the scamsters around us and showing regard to Sonia Gandhi could never be genuine activists, only fraudulent actors

– Self-styled activists have selfish agendas and work as paid agents for foreign powers

– The Nehru-Gandhi family cares only to remain in power and needs to be removed from the political arena

– Existing laws can combat corruption. What the nation needs is genuine leaders who would implement the laws in letter and spirit

– A Chief Minister in Gujarat has brought down corruption to the lowest level with existing laws, even without a Lokayukta! Chief Ministers in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are doing the same with existing laws

– A crusader politician like Dr. Subramanian Swamy is making the lives of the corrupt miserable with the existing laws.

– Parliament is supreme in a democracy, even if some parliamentarians are corrupt and criminals. We can always improve our choice of representatives. We should not handover law making powers to the so-called civil society comprising foreign funded NGOs. That would be a disaster.

– Finally, it is extremely sad that a precious young life was lost in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, due to this callous drama by anti-national forces for their selfish agenda. The national media deliberately concealed this sad development and the arrogant Team Anna didn’t bother to even condole the death of young Arundas, who thought he was following a genuine leader and sacrificed his life. Who is going to compensate this terrible loss? Sonia, or the NGO activists, or Anna? What is going to be the future of his family and poor parents?

Manmohan SinghConclusion

Had Parliament failed in dealing with this issue, Manmohan Singh would have been forced to resign and Rahul Gandhi would have become the PM.

In such a scenario, with pliant people at all important constitutional posts, one shudders to think what would have happened to governance in the country.

Moreover, had Government yielded to the so-called Jan Lokpal, it would have set a bad precedent. It would have led to a flurry of emotional blackmailing by different groups, resulting in chaos. It is gratifying that Parliament rose unanimously to the occasion and asserted its supremacy.

Anna & Co got what they deserved – empty platitudes. 

A good lesson for Sonia & Co! – Vijayvaani, New Delhi, Sept. 1, 2011

» B.R. Haran is a senior journalist

» See also “Who controls the Indian media” by Gautam Sen

The Anna tamasha: A balance sheet – S. Gurumurthy

S. Gurumurthy“The media alleged that Sonia Gandhi had huge monies stashed away abroad. It was then that the UPA II suddenly thought of a Lok Pal Bill to ride out of the tornado of corruption and black money. It was a trap. Soon IAC walked into the trap. It dismissed the government version of the Lok Pal Bill and insisted that the draft prepared by its think tank, the Jan Lok Pal Bill, should be accepted. The Congress party saw it as a blessing in disguise to make its Lok Pal Bill fight the Jan Lok Pal Bill, to keep corruption and black money out of headlines.” – S. Gurumurthy

Anna HazareWith the ‘Sense of the House’ letter from the Speaker reaching Anna Hazare, the Anna fast has ended. And the Team Anna and the media have proclaimed victory. Now the nation is relieved from the non-stop 24×7 screams of the media. It can think now! It can now draw a balance sheet of the Anna stir to know what are its giveaways and takeaways. Now go back to where the agitation began.

What is now known as the Anna movement started as India Against Corruption (IAC), whose website says, “India Against Corruption movement is an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption.”

The IAC website lists as founders besides Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, Mahamood Madani, Arcbishop Vincent M Concessao, Syed Rizvi, Justice D S Tewatia, B R Lall and others. Click the January 2011 archives of IAC website, it is full of “March against corruption” in every nook and corner of India from Agra to Chennai and Ahmedabad to Silichar.

Baba RamdevThe leaders of the IAC, particularly Baba Ramdev, had raised, besides corruption, the emotive issue of Indian black money abroad. But the IAC receded into the oblivion and the apolitical movement against corruption, got reduced to merely a fight for Jan Lok Pal (JLP) Bill. The Anna movement emerged, narrowed into just a battle for a just JLP Bill, marginalised other founders and reduced its leadership to just four, the ‘Team Anna’. See the effect of these changes.

This was how Jan Lok Pal Bill replaced black money and corruption as the core agenda of the IAC? In the Lok Sabha elections in 2009, thanks to L K Advani, the black money issue had become a huge issue; it remained dormant after the UPA victory. But after the tsunami of corruption hit Indian politics, the public roar against black money stashed abroad by politicians, businessmen and criminals became stentorian.

The media alleged that Sonia Gandhi had huge monies stashed away abroad. It was then that the UPA II suddenly thought of a Lok Pal Bill to ride out of the tornado of corruption and black money. It was a trap. Soon IAC walked into the trap. It dismissed the government version of the Lok Pal Bill and insisted that the draft prepared by its think tank, the Jan Lok Pal Bill, should be accepted. The Congress party saw it as a blessing in disguise to make its Lok Pal Bill fight the Jan Lok Pal Bill, to keep corruption and black money out of headlines.

L. K. AdvaniMeanwhile, the BJP committed a Himalayan blunder. L K Advani wrote a personal letter to Sonia Gandhi for the hurt caused to her. That was made public to make it appear that it was to regret the charges made in the BJP Task Force Report on black money that Sonia Gandhi family was keeping huge illegal funds abroad. The BJP’s move against black money became moot, leaving the issue to the apolitical Swami Ramdev, Anna being confined to JLP Bill.

The Congress, thrown on the back foot by corruption and black money issues, saw in JLP Bill an opportunity to obfuscate both. When Anna started his Jantar Mantar fast, Sonia Gandhi – charged with hoarding black wealth abroad – offered to partner him in his battle against corruption! The result, the Congress successfully divided the IAC agenda between Anna with JLP Bill issue and Baba Ramdev with black money and corruption issues.

Sonia Gandhi: Swiss bank accounts.The first fast of Anna was thus subsumed into this Sonia-led Congress strategy, leaving the BJP – thanks to its own follies – with no issues. The collateral benefit to the Congress was that Anna helped to depoliticise and rob the BJP of a highly political issue. The Congress strategy also did more damage to the BJP. It helped to club all political parties, including both the ruling party and the opposition – read the Congress and the BJP – as one and the same.

Clubbing the BJP with the Congress on issues other than secularism helps the Congress and harms the BJP. Yet the elite leaders of the BJP allowed the Congress to succeed in its strategy. So after the first fast of Anna the Congress virtually dictated the agenda. Meanwhile Team Anna got Anna, who had first praised Narendra Modi, to talk against him so as to move the Anna movement further away from the BJP. This was the setting for the second Anna fast.

But the simple Anna proved increasingly difficult. He demanded a JLP Bill that included the PM down to everyone in the net. The Congress raised the plea that Anna could not dictate to the Parliament and got the BJP into the trap again. It got the constitutionalists in the BJP to endorse its view, again clubbing the BJP with itself!

Nitin GadkariBut, the Congress strategy to handle Anna like it handled Swami Ramdev failed miserably with the media, which had no other headlines, focussing on Anna 24×7. With the media screaming ‘Anna’ and ‘Anna’ all the time, the Congress was on the run. Alas the BJP also found itself running with the Congress, against Anna. But, RSS workers enthused by Anna’s cry of “Vandemataram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” – both branded as RSS slogans – joined the movement in large numbers forcing the BJP president Nitin Gadkari to disregard the BJP Parliamentary Party and write to Anna offering support to his demands.

This forced the BJP Parliamentary Party also to side with Anna, rationalising the shift as the “evolving” stand of the BJP! This tilted the scale in Anna’s favour. But again the Congress would not leave the BJP. It joined with the BJP in the ‘Sense of the House’ exercise. The media claimed victory for Anna and for itself.

Here is the balance sheet of the Anna movement as of date. The BJP bracketed with the Congress loses; the Congress does not. The Congress cannot take Anna for granted; Anna cannot trust the Congress. The nation waits for what the Parliament will do about JLP Bill. The RSS is pleased that the two slogans “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Vandemataram” long ostracised by Secular India have been secularised by Anna. – The New Indian Express, Chennai, August 29, 2011

» S. Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.

» E-mail Gurumurthy at:comment@gurumurthy.net

Anna’s dictatorial ways criticised by his own team members – PTI Report

Justice Santosh HegdeNEW DELHI: There were growing signs of differences within the Anna Hazare camp over the continuance of Gandhian’s fast with Justice Santosh Hegde on Friday joining another associate, Agnivesh, in saying that the hunger strike should be called off now.

Hegde, also member of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, strongly disapproved of Hazare’s insistence on “having his way” in Parliament, saying “I feel I am not in Team Anna any more by the way things are going. These (telling Parliament what to do) are not democratic things.”

Asking Hazare to call off his fast that entered the 11th day on Friday, Agnivesh also made it clear that any appearance of threats to Parliament is not becoming of a Gandhian.

“This is some sort of…seen as a threat to Parliament ‘you do it by tomorrow or day after’. This is not becoming of a Gandhian fast or a moment.. So this was the right moment to call it off,” Agnivesh said.

Vinod Mehta, editor-in-chief of Outlook Magazine, also attacked the “a coterie” within Team Anna, Vinod Mehtaaccusing them of “playing with the life” of the Gandhian to press absurd demands.

“I condemn this dangerous game they are playing in the name of people’s power. All right thinking people should speak up against the coterie which is leading Anna Hazare and the nation to collision course,” he said.

Appealing to Hazare to end his fast in view of government’s decision to discuss Jan Lokpal in Parliament, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma said continuation of Gandhian’s fast may not appear “reasonable”.

“In my view, there is no justification at least now for the continuance of the fast undertaken by Hazare and I appeal to him to end his fast forthwith in keeping with the national sentiments and concern for his health.”

Verma had earlier written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to discuss the drafts already prepared by sections of civil society and in the public domain, including those by the Team Anna and the Aruna Roy team as the first step to end the imbroglio.

Actress and social activist Shabana Azmi has also asked Anna to end his fast, saying that insisting on the Jan Lokpal Bill was not right.

“Anna’s call against corruption has taken the shape of a movement and he has made a point, but insisting on Jan Lokpal Bill is not right as the supremacy of Parliament in a democracy cannot be challenged,” she said. – PTI, New Delhi, August 27, 2011

Agnivesh not with Hazare anymore?

The RSS has apparently issued a whip to the BJP to extend all possible support to social activist Anna Hazare. The signals from the Sangh headquarters at Nagpur came on Wednesday, when the BJP took an anti-line and criticised Mr Hazare’s call to picket outside homes of the MPs.

However, in a startling revelation, a member of Team Anna, Swami Agnivesh told this newspaper, that while moving out from Tihar Jail, it was decided and Delhi police were also informed that ‘Anna would neither fast unto death nor would do an indefinite fast’.

Swami AgniveshTargeting Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashan Bhushan, he said, “Yeh bahut galat kaam ho rahe hain (All very wrong things are taking place). Anna is being wrongly advised.”

He said that ‘these people (Mr Kejriwal, Ms Bedi and Mr Bhushans) think, the movement will fizzle out if Anna breaks his fast’.

During the last two days, Swami Agnivesh stayed away from Ramlila Maidan, as he was ‘deeply hurt by Team Anna’s behaviour. Criticising demonstrations in front of the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and MPs, Swami felt that this could ‘turn violent anytime’.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the RSS told the BJP leadership that it should ‘back Anna Hazare, both inside and outside Parliament’. A signal has also been sent across the country to swayamsevaks to move towards Delhi in support of Anna Hazare, sources said.

Speaking in Indore, the RSS sarkaryavah, Suresh Joshi went on record saying, ‘the government must not repress the Anna Hazare’s anti corruption campaign’.

He also made it clear that the ‘RSS supports anti-graft campaign by Anna’. In its latest issue, describing Anna’s stir as ‘nothing short of a revolution’, the RSS mouthpiece, ‘Organiser’ in the editorial targeted the UPA and the Gandhi clan.

“… Anna Hazare has cornered Congress. The Manmohan-Sonia nautanki (drama) has been exposed…. Is it the death knell for dynasty politcs?”

Also, the so called peaceful and non-violent stir has taken a violent turn. Drunken protestors reportedly roughed up a scribe a few days ago and on Thursday they forced shopkeepers to down shutters.

On Friday, an Anna supporter entered the Parliament and took off his shirt, shouting slogans in Anna’s favour – and raising security concerns.

The situation is expected to get worse, when RSS cadres begin entering the national capital in support of the agitation. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, August 27, 2011

Lokpal: A neo-con leech – Sandhya Jain

Sandhya Jain“Anna is MIXING UP the corruption that ordinary citizens are forced to indulge in – for admission to school, getting a gas cylinder, breaking a queue somewhere – and instilling guilt in the middle class. Anna is pretending that the small, medium, or large extortions that the middle class is subjected to are at par with the gargantuan corruption of the 2G scam.” – Sandhya Jain

K. Ashok RaoThe term ‘civil society,’ as wisely noted by Shri K. Ashok Rao, president, National Confederation of Officers’ Associations (NCOA), is an integral part of neo-con lexicon.

It denotes a group created by Capital and supported by Corporate Media. In this scheme of things, campaigns launched by foreign-funded NGOs are ‘civil society’.

The Corporate Media too, have a generous dose of FDI to keep their moral outrage flowing. As the Hindi proverb admonishes, bhooke bhakt na rahe Gopala, or ‘the hungry do not remain devout’.

Precisely such a neo-con scenario is unfolding in India today. A group of persons whose eminence lies in the foreign Team Annaawards and purses bestowed upon them by far-sighted benefactors, have invested huge resources in a nation-wide propaganda blitzkrieg to emotionally manipulate a citizenry nauseated by the corruption in the higher echelons of government.

And they have played an amazing game of Deception, Deceit, and Duplicity. They have deliberately confused issues to instill guilt in ordinary citizens and compel them to commit to their movement in public, all the while pursuing a covert agenda to undermine the Nation.

Real Problem vs. Phantom Issue

What has outraged ordinary citizens is the phenomenon known as ‘crony capitalism’. This is an open and shameless nexus between the political ruling A. Rajaclass, the senior bureaucracy, and the expanding corporate sector, whereby scarce national resources (like Spectrum, land) or lucrative national resources (like oil, gas, metals and minerals) are handed over to the private sector at throw away prices, to the detriment of the public exchequer.

This nexus has given us horrible scandals like 2G Spectrum; Adarsh Housing Society; Commonwealth Games; mining scams in various states; IPL (cricket); illicit accounts in foreign tax havens; to name just the most recent.

This loot is qualitatively different from the same nexus when it existed (it is eternal) in the pre-liberalisation era, popularly known as the license-permit raj. Back then, businessmen desired freedom from the strangulation of an inspector raj that did not let them function productively; they paid bribes because they had to in order to function, and ordinary citizens sympathized with them because they generated all the jobs outside of government and the public sector.

Anna HazareInterestingly, as corporate wealth has grown in recent decades, there are sectors with an army of ill-paid contractual workers and few permanent jobs with benefits. American billionaire Warren Buffet pointed to this truth in his own country recently.

But Anna Hazare and his moral brigade are not mentioning this issue – which is corroding the economy and spirit of the nation – at all.

Anna is MIXING UP the corruption that ordinary citizens are forced to indulge in – for admission to school, getting a gas cylinder, breaking a queue somewhere – and instilling guilt in the middle class. People are being asked to sign pledges that they will not give or take bribes, which is neither here nor there. That kind of bribery ends when institutions or services are improved; viz., you no longer need bribes or contacts to get a phone connection.

Sonia GandhiBut Anna is pretending that the small, medium, or large extortions that the middle class is subjected to are at par with the gargantuan corruption of the 2G scam.

Anna Hazare had no hesitation in seeking Ms Sonia Gandhi’s intervention to persuade the Government to pass his Lokpal Bill in April 2011. Now, in view of her mysterious disappearance abroad – for surgery or other personal reasons, no one knows for sure – he has thought only of appealing to Mr Rahul Gandhi to bail him out.

Why?

The question comes to mind – is all this a charade to force the beleaguered Prime Minister to throw in the towel and anoint Mr Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister, when no one wants him and no one believes in his leadership (sic) qualities?

Robert VadraIt is relevant that Anna and his cronies have not dared utter one word about Ms Sonia Gandhi, though she created unseemly controversies for the Gandhi family in many deals involving public money during the reign of both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. They can hardly be unaware of the questions in the public mind about the sudden financial eminence of Mr Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Ms Sonia Gandhi.

The fact that they constantly turn to Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi, like petulant children determined to have their way, raises serious doubts about their agenda and objectives.

Pied Piper and the Indian ‘Arab Spring’

Recently, an internet website, BeyondHeadlines, filed a query under the Right to Information Act regarding Anna associate Manish Sisodia’s organization, Kabir. Under this, Afroz Alam Sahil and S.Z. Saleem learnt that Kabir received funding from diverse sources, including the Michigan-based Ford Foundation, which has close links with the ubiquitous Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Thus, it transpires that Kabir received funds from the Ford Foundation (Rs 86,61,742), PRIA (Rs 2,37,035), Manjunath Shanmugam Trust (Rs 3,70,000), Dutch Embassy (Rs 19,61,968), Association for India’s Development (Rs 15,00,000), India’s Friends Association (Rs 7,86,500), United Nationals Development Programme (Rs12,52,742). A paltry Rs 11,35,857 were collected from individual donations between 2007 to 2010.

Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi & Manish SisodiaBesides the Ford Foundation, the UNDP and India Friends Association are US-based. PRIA and AID are headquartered in Asia.

In the light of what has happened in Iraq and now Libya – where foreign-funded dissidents brought down supposedly dictatorial regimes that gave an enviable standard of living to their citizens – we may legitimately ask why US-based bodies that have Zero Compassion for US citizens are funding a war against corruption (sic) on the other side of the world.

Just as the Iraqi stooges have no shame for bringing ruin upon their nation and people so American oil majors could loot the wealth of this ancient land, the Libyan stooges will feel no remorse when the white oil majors lick their lips and line their pockets with Libya’s high grade oil. They will feel no dishonour in bringing down the Caesar who was set to lead Africa into the era of the Gold Dinar.

Shall we, children of Chanakya, legatees of Arthasastra, the world’s most ancient manual of statecraft, be swayed by the rhetoric of men and women who owe their eminence and so-called moral profile to foreign recognition and foreign purses?

Arvind KejriwalLet there be no mistake on this score. What has just been attempted in India is nothing but a US-manipulated Colour Revolution, a kind of non-violent Arab Spring, with ample provision for violence should the need arise.

Consider three points.

First, in the preparatory Delhi seminars in April, where he lobbied with RSS think tanks for their cadre support, Mr Arvind Kejriwal constantly enticed his audience to make Anna Hazare’s fast at Jantar Mantar into India’s Tehrir Square.

I was astounded. At Tehrir Square, as everyone knows, emotive crowds pressured Mr Hosni Mubarak to quit office. But the Army remained in full control, and even now there is really no change in governance in Egypt. Where is the great revolution?

Rahul GandhiCan making Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister be the fruit of India’s Tehrir Square (Ramlila Maidan)? What an anti-climax.

Secondly, Anna Hazare openly encouraged the crowds to gather at the houses of Ministers and MPs and force them to support his movement (he did say they should be non-violent). Thus demonstrators arrived at the official residence of the Prime Minister in Assam and at the homes of ministers in some cities, including Delhi, and thus created an opening for agent provocateurs to indulge in mischief…

Third, both Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal openly exhorted the crowd to resist the authorities if they tried to remove the fasting agitator to hospital. The hysteria on this count only rose after the all party meet declared Parliament was supreme and refused to be hustled into passing his half-baked Jan Lokpal Bill.

Such resistance can only be violent, and let’s not fudge this issue. It was a call to chaos, and any violence that may occur in future should be laid at their doors.

Jain LogoSallekhana and the fast-unto-death

In the Jain tradition, sallekhana (also santhara) or the fast-unto-death is embraced with great solemnity and joy, for a soul that has lived a full life in this world is turning its face back to the Supreme Source from which it emanated. In 1994, my paternal uncle suddenly felt the urge to depart while in full command of his faculties and in good health. He announced after a midday meal that the call had come, and gave up food and water completely. He died after ten days, in good cheer, unwavering to the end that he was going to meet the Source.

Not for us this cheap shrillness – look at me, I am dying for your sins. Reform, repent, do as I say, or all will be lost forever.

Give me a break.

My advice

My advice to the Government is as follows – if Anna dies, let the Lokpal Bill die with him. After all, it is his imposed agenda on the nation. Parliament, in its wisdom, kept it on the backburner for 42 years. We simply don’t need it.

What we do need is:

  • To appreciate the marvellous job done by the Comptroller & Auditor General in bringing the guilty in the 2G scam to book
  • In uncovering the layers of deceit in the Commonwealth Games
  • In meticulously documenting a host of other scams (reports of which are soon to be tabled in Parliament).

Vinod RaiMr Vinod Rai has done the nation proud; he has shown us what is possible when decent officers uphold the dignity of their office. Mr T.N. Seshan did that with the Election Commission. With officers like that, we don’t need an officious Lokpal of foreign-funded moral crusaders.

We do, however, need a Central Bureau of Investigation that is unshackled by political masters. In other words, strengthen the existing institutions; don’t add to the bureaucracy; and don’t burden the Consolidated Fund of India.

We, the humble taxpayers of India, are already groaning under unbearable prices. We don’t want another creamy layer of NGOs battening off our blood.

It is time to end the charade at Ramlila Maidan. 

» Sandhya Jain is the editor of Vijayvaani, New Delhi

Ambedkar’s way & Anna Hazare’s coercive methods – Sukhadeo Thorat

Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat“As Dr. Ambedkar observed, due to certain aspects of Indian culture our people are highly vulnerable to hero-worship. How a yoga teacher could convert yoga devotees into religious devotees and finally into political supporters within a few years’ time is a classic example of what hero-worship and bhakti can do. Another religious preacher has threatened that he would use his religious followers for political end which he thinks does not require discussion with them as they follow him in whatever he tells them to do.” – Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat

Dr. B.R. AmbedkarA group of people, with placards showing Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, staged a demonstration in Delhi a few days ago against Anna Hazare’s proposals on the Lokpal and the methods used by his team. More often than not, Dalits look with suspicion on any attempt to tamper with the Constitution. Team Anna has, however, suggested that its Lokpal bill would benefit Dalits more than anyone else. This led me to look at Dr. Ambedkar’s position as compared to the mode of agitation being deployed by Anna Hazare and his team.

In his last, visionary speech after the submission of the drafted Constitution on November 25, 1949, Dr. Ambedkar warned of three possible dangers to the new-born democracy. These related to social and economic inequalities, the use of unconstitutional methods, and hero-worship.

Dr. Ambedkar first pointed to the contradiction between equality in politics in the form of one-person-one-vote and the inequalities in social and economic life. He argued that for political democracy to succeed, it needed to be founded on the tissues and fibres of social and economic equality. He warned that we must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment, or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy. Although we in India are trying hard to reduce the vast inequalities that exist, the working of political democracy is already under heavy stress due to discontent in some parts of country.

Dr. Ambedkar’s second, and more important, warning in the present context related to the methods to achieve social and economic objectives. He urged the people to abandon bloody as well as coercive methods to bring about change. This means abandoning methods of civil disobedience, non-cooperation, coercive forms of satyagraha and fast. Referring to the use of these methods during the British period, Dr. Ambedkar observed: “When there was no way left for the constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods.” But using them since that period, in his view, was “nothing less than the Grammar of Anarchy.” He advocated that “the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us as a nation.”

M.K. GandhiDr. Ambedkar’s third warning related to “hero worship.” He was immensely concerned over the political culture of “laying down the liberties at the feet of great men or to trust them with powers which enable them to subvert their institutions.” He believed that there is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. No man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of the people of India than in the case of any other country, for in India, bhakti, or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in politics, unequalled in magnitude to the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world, argued Dr. Ambedkar. He went on to add that bhakti or hero-worship in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul, but in politics, bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.

These views of Dr. Ambedkar also evolved through a much deeper commitment to constitutional methods and their use in the anti-untouchability movement during the 1920s and the 1930s. The 1920s and the 1930s saw a series of agitations led by Dr. Ambedkar to get public wells, tanks and Hindu temples opened to “untouchables.” In the present context, recalling two such incidents is very relevant, namely, the agitation for access to a water tank in Mahad, and for entry into the famous Kalaram temple in Nasik. In both cases, Dr. Ambedkar was up against violent high-caste Hindus, with the British sitting on the fence.

Dr. Ambedkar started the Mahad agitation in 1927, but the “untouchables” got access to the tank only in 1937 through a court order. The people of the high castes had managed a court order to ban the entry of “untouchables” into the tank on the grounds that it was a private tank. Dr. Ambedkar accepted the court order and discontinued a second march to the tank. But he fought through the courts and got justice in 1937, almost after 10 years. He did this using legal instruments and a peaceful mass movement, without the coercive means of fasts and hunger strikes.

Kalaram Temple, Nashik.Similarly, the agitation for entry into the Kalaram temple went on for four years, from 1930 to 1934. He discontinued the agitation in 1934 following opposition by priests, notwithstanding the support extended by Gandhiji. But he fought a legal battle, along with a peaceful agitation, for the next four years, and in 1939 ultimately secured entry to the temple for “untouchables.”

During the 1920s and the 1930s, Dr. Ambedkar combined mass mobilisation with legal methods in the anti-untouchability movement, but never allowed unconstitutional and coercive methods to take hold, despite instances of violent attack on “untouchables.” Once he came face to face with Gandhiji with the latter’s fast-unto-death and he had to compromise on the demand for a separate electorate with what is the present-day political reservation. Coercive means forced him to surrender the demand for a separate electorate, the consequences of which are visible today.

Constitution of IndiaTeam Anna should realise that the Indian Constitution provides ample opportunities for advocacy, through discussion and lobbying with parliamentary Standing Committees, Groups of Ministers, the Ministers concerned, the Prime Minister, courts, and above all through a peaceful agitation. With several political parties on their side, the possibility of reaching a middle ground is high. Experience with constitutional means shows that civil society activists, through their constant struggles, have persuaded the two successive United Progressive Alliance governments to acknowledge several basic rights and convert these into laws. The right to employment through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the right to information, rights under the Forest Act, the right to education, and now the right to food, are some of the revolutionary measures that civil society has been able to accomplish through constitutional methods. It is an opportunity for Team Anna to use constitutional methods and enhance the faith of people in these; otherwise Team Anna will convey the message that only coercive and unconstitutional methods work.

Baba RamdevAs Dr. Ambedkar observed, due to certain aspects of Indian culture our people are highly vulnerable to hero-worship. How a yoga teacher could convert yoga devotees into religious devotees and finally into political supporters within a few years’ time is a classic example of what hero-worship and bhakti can do. Another religious preacher has threatened that he would use his religious followers for political end which he thinks does not require discussion with them as they follow him in whatever he tells them to do.

Anna and his team should recognise that for a new democracy like ours, which is operating within the framework of undemocratic relations based on the caste system, constitutional methods and social morality need to be cultivated and promoted with a purpose. The Lokpal Bill is too important a piece of legislation to be passed under threat and unreasonable deadlines. All its aspects need to be discussed with extreme care and with consensus among all sections. Dalits have begun to express concern about its implications for them. In a society where the anti-caste spirit and prejudices are present in abundance, they feel that given its proposed wide-ranging powers, it may be misused.

Sri Sri Ravishankar & Anna HazareThe Commissioner for Scheduled Castes reported about 11,469 complaints by Dalit government employees during the period from 2004 to 2010 that were linked to caste prejudice. Several thousand more complaints under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, such as giving “false or frivolous information to any public servant and thereby cause such public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of member of SC/ST” are waiting for justice. Therefore, Dalits have begun to seek safeguards against the complaints emanating from caste prejudices in the Lokpal Bill. I think the government has rightly brought the bill for an open discussion before the Standing Committee that comprises MPs from all parties, so that the Bill is discussed by all sections in a peaceful milieu and not under duress and force.

Ralegan SiddhiAnna Hazare knows that the road to social change is a difficult one. He helped Dalits in a number of ways, including by repaying loans taken by Dalits with contributions from villagers. Yet he could not bring about fraternity between them — Dalits continue to stay in segregated localities in his village. Corruption, like untouchability, is deeply embedded in the social fabric of our society. Therefore, besides legislation its eradication requires changes through education and moral regeneration. – The Hindu, Chennai, 21 August 2011

» Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat is Professor of Economics, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
E-mail: thoratsukhadeo@yahoo.co.in