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That Sinking Feeling .....


Haven’t blogged in a while … well actually haven’t felt the need to … there were a hundred issues on which I wanted to express myself but never in more than a status update on FB or a tweet on twitter … but then yesterday’s turn of events at Jantar Mantar certainly evoked feelings that couldn’t be expressed in 140 characters that twitter offers or the slightly greater luxury that FB allows …. Hence this rant !

I have never interacted with a person who is FOR corruption.  So to even ponder if anti corruption movement is a worthy one or not, is a no brainer! But then have I met a person who has not been involved in an act of corruption? Hmmm that is an interesting question and what would be even more interesting are the answers to that question!

But hey! I am against corruption isn’t that good enough? I might bribe a traffic cop, produce a fake medical certificate, buy railway tickets on tatkal through agents, watch pirated movies or download cracked software … is there a dichotomy? A conflict…? Well actually no, because thanks to our leaders, in India that I live any fooling around which is less than a few hundred crores is not a scam nor considered worthy of being called corruption. In any case, I am corrupt because I have no choice, given a chance I would not have been … after everyone else stops being corrupt around me, I too shall follow suit.

But that is not what this rant is about! I was and am a staunch supporter of India Against Corruption, as corrupt as I may be. I have great admiration for people like Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and the rest who are spearheading this movement. I admire the fact that most of them could have been elsewhere, in the comforts of their home and family instead of fighting it out for the rest of their countrymen and playing with their own health, safety and security! But then, I have a feeling that their latest decision is not a very sound one...


There are people around me suggesting that this is what it was all about from the time they started, that they had political ambitions all through. And then there are people who suggest that this was something they never wanted, but then they were left with no choice as the government of the day turned blind and deaf to their agitation and time was running out for those who were fasting. As a result, announcement of entering politics was a graceful exit strategy! The truth in my opinion maybe somewhere between these two hugely divergent theories… and I am not worried about this aspect as well. 

In a democracy anyone can have political ambitions. So even if IAC was originally constituted to form a political party somewhere down the line so be it. Also I would not want to see anyone, let alone a prominent public figure like Kejriwal lose his health or god forbid his life, in the quest of giving this country an idealistic anti corruption establishment. So what am I worried about? Well a few things actually …

Firstly electoral politics is different kind of a beast. It is one thing to whip up frenzy across the so called urban middle class; it is completely another game to be able to translate that to electoral victories. A huge majority of this Urban Middle Class that I also belong to, believes that patriotism means updating their facebook status on National Days, Sharing and Liking images and poems that reinforce inanities like “Vande Mataram” is the best National Song and most doctors in US are Indians …. Oh Yes! Our patriotism also extends to eulogizing our sporting heroes as and when they excel in their area of expertise and vilifying them when they don’t … nothing more nothing less!
Heard of Lok Paritran a party created by ex IIT’ans? With lots of seemingly genuine claims about changing the Indian political scene?  The party split soon after its first electoral outing (where it won.... surprise! surprise!!! ZERO seats) and the rebels formed a new outfit Bharat Punarnirman Dal … with nothing much to write home about? The once celebrated http://www.lok-paritran.org/ website is in itself today a hacked site offering information about some furniture … what a shame … the fate is no different for Professionals Party Of India, with nothing much to write home about when it comes to electoral wins … 

What about the much publicized entry of Ms. Meera Sanyal into South Mumbai’s electoral ring? Mumbai that was seething with its anger against corrupt and ineffective ruling party (charged with failure to prevent the Mumbai attacks amongst others), voted in the same party’s candidate with couple of lakhs of vote as against Meera’ s ten thousand odd votes. So much for the claims that we do not vote, because all are thieves and there is no good candidate to vote for!!! 

In a country where the vast majority vote their castes rather than cast their vote, a packet of biryani and quart of liquor decides on which symbol I will stick my vote, I do not see much of electoral victories for IAC. Winning elections needs huge amounts of money and organizational capacity. IAC lacks that at this point in time. When money and muscle power pushes them to electoral defeats the so called victors will get on all the stages available to them and declare that the people of this country have rejected the IAC and therefore they have no moral right to fight on behalf of those people. 
 
Secondly, it is impossible to get into electoral politics with a single point agenda. So what is your party’s agenda? “Oh we are against corruption and for a strong Jan Lok Pal” Ok what are your views about FDI in Retail? On disinvestment? On Uniform Civil Code? On dealing with Pakistan? On India’s foreign policy? On Affirmative Action, Communalism, Education, Police Reforms, Power Sector Reforms, illegal migrants …. The list is long … and the fact is there are as many views within IAC on these issues, as there are members who address the television on behalf of the IAC. So how does this political entity stay united? 

Accepting they still manage to do so and imagining that notwithstanding whatever has been said until now, this party wins the next elections by a substantial margin and then enacts the Lokpal Bill, what next? Will the party dissolve itself as its purpose of creation has been achieved? Or say just before the 2014 elections all the current political parties realize that IAC is a threat and enact the Lok Pal bill, will the party be disbanded? 


But then those are rather unimaginable scenarios right? In fact as unimaginable as a bunch of villagers from a remote village of India, taking on the British in their own game (Cricket, which the villagers have never ever played before) and defeating them as well, to ensure that they get a favorable taxation laws… possible when it happens on the movie screen and we have a Indian film crew producing it … for that to happen in real life … hmmm there lies the problem! When I have a bad feeling that Indian team will lose this match, it does not make me a India hater, nor does that suggest that I want India to lose… it is just that when I see certain score lines and think about the practicalities … I get that sinking feeling …. :(

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