|Posted by [email protected] on February 25, 2011 at 11:22 AM|
Journalist, Researcher, Activist
AFTER getting a positive response from business houses friendly to West Bengal's Left Front dispensation for a new, independent media venture during this writer's recent visit to the state's capital and parts of its hinterland, last evening I had had the opportunity of interacting with members of the Jago Party and the greater Andhra Pradesh-based Loksatta Party. The latter also happens to be a founding member of the NGO, 5th Pillar, that, among other activities, had put to practice the ingenious idea of offering every bribe seeker a '0 rupee' Indian-currency lookalike, which had successfully ridiculed and put to shame about 25,000 corrupt people across the country.
This is over and above the moral support of the founder of the Right to Recall Party, Rahul Chimanbhai Mehta, who happened to contest against the BJP's LK Advani in the last 2009 elections for the Lok Sabha seat of Gandhinagar, and garner a decent 7,500 odd votes. This writer met him in December 2010.
Over the past few years it has been noticed that several well-meaning individuals and small outfits are registering protests against all sorts of wrongdoings by local, state as well as national administrations. However, they haven't had the kind of impact necessary to change the country's dilapidating system. A natural human tendency one notices here is that anybody who happens to be struck by an idea wants a kind of intellectual property right over it, and wants that particular idea to score over the competing (but otherwise equally well intentioned) ideas. And then there is the malaise political observers are well aware of: one's own ambitions, which often come in the way of forging unity between disparate political groups.
So, a few other friends and acquaintances, with the strength of the group perpetually increasing began trying to bring all these groups together on the ground of the bare minimum concerns they share.
The next two political parties we approached are the JD(U) and the TDP. This is besides our interactions with the members of the Freedom Team of India.
It must be noted in this regard that members of the Youth for Democracy (Y4D), separately or in unison, may not agree to one or more agendas of any of the political parties they are trying to bring together. However, these differences -- some of them quite serious -- must take a backseat for the moment and the primary focus has got to stay on ousting the current thoroughly corrupt regime.
That brings us to a questionable aspect of a recent show of strength by 'concerned' citizens -- many of them eminent like Kiran Bedi and Ram Jethmalani -- in New Delhi. In course of this demonstration, no politician or political party whose hands are seemingly in the till were named in the speeches delivered by the prominent personalities. Some efforts to do so by a few members of the organising committee were thwarted by the bigger names in the panel (this includes tearing apart posters shaming the alleged masterminds of the 2G and CWG scams before they could be put in public view).
While the organisers of the 30 January demonstration could argue that they would rather demand something substantive in the form of a legislative measure like the Lokpal Bill, there are reasons to be disappointed by the action of forwarding this agenda at the cost of others. For one, the Lokpal newly powered by the proposed act could turn out to be a Frankenstein's monster! And then, their hesitation, reluctance or fear to wage a real, all-out war against the corrupt does not catch public fancy, which, for all its failings, is the need of the hour.
The movement led by Anna Hazare indeed turned out to be a sponsored show: sponsored by the very class that India against Corruption purportedly and publicly was up in arms against.
We are equally at odds with prominent opposition parties that, despite raising a hue and cry over the present dispensation's incompetence and corruption, have shown no intention of toppling the UPA-II Government right now. We are not convinced they are actually bothered about the financial costs of a mid-term poll. Practically, they are just not ready to offer an alternative by bringing in a No-Confidence Motion in the parliament and then fighting elections afresh. Of course, there could be spoilsports like the Samajwadi Party who would always be ready to pitch in with its support in case an ally deserts the UPA. But that cannot be an insurmountable challenge. We would like to know, therefore, the other causes of their inhibition. And we shall come to know of them through direct interactions with the parties concerned rather than speculate about the factors through armchair journalism.
Meanwhile, we are planning a massive political event, the details of which will be made public in due course.
On 22 February, members of the Y4D met Supreme Court advocate Ashok Arora, a gentle soul who left a thriving practice in law to take up the cause of the have-nots. He has assured us of legal guidance that may be needed when we take on the might of law out there in the streets. Mr Arora has for long been involved in sensitising the youth towards the crying needs of society.
The next meeting was with JD(U)'s KC Tyagi. He has assured us of logistical support as and when we would organise a Delhi-bound rally from Bihar's Champaran district.
Another capital-bound rally is being planned from the Sabarmati Ashram, Gujarat.