THE year 2013 was grey and grim. Prices rose, unemployment increased, moral standards fell and corruption was accepted as a normal phenomena. Parliament and state legislatures hardly functioned. Then there was summer in the cold month of December. The 46-year-old Lokpal Bill became an article.
I wish the Central Bureau of investigation (CBl) had been made independent, directly under parliament. But since its own committee has prepared the bill after holding consultations with nearly all political parties, it should constitute the Lokpal (Ombudsman).
The credit must go to Gandhian Anna Hazare who spearheaded the movement. Yet his hasty judgement and harsh words for the Aam Admi Party (AAP) do hot help the dissemination of fresh ideas. The party is an extension of voluntary work done by the activists at the grassroots. These people are naive and do not know the tricks of politics. This is their strength.
That they, unlike the Naxalites, have put their faith in the ballot box and have successfully fought the state election in Delhi is the result of their realization that democracy demands a way to determine who will direct the people to reject dictatorships or an authoritarian system. How far the AAP can ensure the people’s participation as well as sovereignty may decide the fate of other experiments born out of millions of mutinies, however small, waging in the country.
In fact, leading activists like Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey should assemble on the platform which the AAP has provided. By no means should they leave their ideal to strengthen the people’s movements to put pressure on the government. But why don’t they constitute the governments themselves?
Had Medha headed the Gujarat government the height of the Narmada Dam would have been decided by her to avoid the uprooting of people from their homes and hearths. In fact, the very dam, to which she objected, may have been replaced by a series of small dams which would have assured water to far-flung places like Rajkot and still not disturbed lakhs of people, most of them not getting land for land.
Aruna Roy should have realized that the Right to Information, for which she mobilized people, would not have come about if parliament had not enacted the law. Her brief stint with Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council should have proved how the land acquisition and the food security demands became laws because Sonia Gandhi represented the authority of the governing party. People’s movements cannot be end by itself.
Another striking feature of December is the emergence of Rahul Gandhi as the leader of the Congress. Sonia Gandhi has stepped back. Lately he is speaking and taking stances which may force the intelligentsia to rethink about his capability, written off earlier. Maybe, he is beginning to peak when Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is lessening in gathering people’s attention because he peaked too early.
This takes me to the Modi phenomenon. No doubt, he has jolted the political parties and the people. He speaks excellently in Hind; and goes down well in northern India. The rout of the Congress in Rajasthan in the state election has been primarily because of Modi. He even increased the tally of seats in Madhya Pradesh.
Yet Modi has not clicked in West Bengal, Odhisha, Kerala, the northeastern states and to a large extent in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Even otherwise, his preference of Hindu nationalism in place of Indian nationalism has alienated the minorities, particularly theMuslims who influence the outcome on the parliamentary elections at least in 200 constituencies out of 545.
The BJP may emerge the largest party in the next Lok Sabha, going to the polls in May. The defeat of the Congress in the four states,Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi is a clear indication of people’s anti-Congress mood. But it does not mean that Modi is the next prime minister.
The BJP may have to have a more acceptable person to form the government. He has not even said “sorry” for the loss of lives and property of Muslims in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. There is a possibility of a dark horse, a non-Congress and a non-BJP person, who will have the support of regional parties to be the prime minister. It all depends on the election results.
Lately, there are so many outcries against corruption that the political parties have begun to pay heed to morality. One example is that of Delhi legislature. Even though the BJP was only short of four members for the formation of the government, it did not try to prod or get the support of independents. The party said that it did not get the mandate, something which was never the case before. This is a good beginning. Whether the political parties admit it or not, the AAP has set into motion an era which is harking back on the values.
What has been disturbing in the year 2013 is the rise of communalism. To an extent, it is Modi’s divisive politics which he has camouflaged under the garb of development. Once a pracharak of the RSS, he is creating a wedge between Hindu and Muslims who have been living in peace for more than a thousand years.
The worst fallout of his propaganda has been the killing of Muslims in Muzzafarnagar. They were sharing a common life. But this did not fit into the BJP’s scheme of things. The police force was, as usual, partisan. The victims are still languishing in camps despite the claim by state chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav to be pro-Muslim.
That is the reason why the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill should have been enacted during the winter session. This would have enabled the central government to intervene at a place where the police force was contaminated and where the state administration lax. Parties can tear a leaf out of the book of AAP. It has initiated a politics that transcends caste and creed. The AAP’s success shows that the people are ready for it.