Anna in the shadow of ‘JP’!



The kind of media  hype and elaborate television coverage that Anna Hazare and his team received over the last one year could not have been unexpected at a time when a dishevelled nation felt drained out of its patience and optimism as a result of a continuing spate of scam after scam after scam which went either upunished or under-punished. At that precise moment arrived Anna, a man who was immaculately clean, unquestionably honest and thoroughly effacing … a rare commodity in contemporary socio-political milieu which was controlled by dons and bullies who carried the day on the sheer strength of chicanery and maneauverability. So, Anna came like a wave of fresh air for a generation of 21st century young Indians who  did not have the opportunity to witness a self-effacing Mahatma Gandhi’s ideologically strategized movement against the mighty British empire or a more recent self-denying Jai Prakash Narain’s intelligentally crafted “Janata” rebellion to dethrone an unsurmountable Indira Gandhi.
Nevertheless, Anna Hazare will always have to face the inevitable though unenviable predicament of being assessed on the yardstick of Gandhi and J.P. And, even though Anna enjoyed the distinct advantage of 24-hour live TV telecast, those who have lived through the earlier era may not place Anna’s impact graph higher than that of Gandhi who came on the scene around a century ago when even radio was remote or JP who stepped on to the centre stage nearly half a century ago when radio had arrived but TV was remote.
While JP stirred up the post-independence India against self-righteous authoritarianism of Indira Gandhi, Anna sought to arouse the post-independence India against self-righteous corruption in high places flourishing under the Congress led UPA whose strings are held by Sonia Gandhi. To that extent, the commonality is too vast to prompt a comparison of Anna movement with that of JP. But, history, they say, repeats itself…. first time it is a tragedy,  second time it is a farce. The history of JP movement ended in the tragedy of a fragmented Janata Party with each of the mutually warring constituents taking a separate course only to pave way for the return of Indira Gandhi. And now, the story of Anna movement gets entangled in hiccups of confusion with Sonia Gandhi having the last laugh.
For quite some time to come, the course of Anna movement will continue to evoke research interest for the students of political revolutions and Anna will continue to be judged in the shadow of ‘JP’. A revolution, says a time-tested dictum, does not last for a long time if it is devoid of ideas while nobody can stop a revolution triggered by an idea whose time has come. Anna Hazare needs to revisit the genesis and evolution of the movement initiated by him and so also the common man needs to have a closer look at what all he expects from Anna. Umapathy beckons back Anna with a  famous poetic call from the revolutionary protagonists of 1950s, “…… Aa, Ab Laut Chalen!”


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