The fast by Anna Hazare in Ramlila Maidan and the upwelling of lakhs of people pan India in support of the agitation clearly puts a point across that radical change can be brought about in a democratic method, keeping under the ambit of the Constitution, if the people desire so. An in-depth analysis of Anna Hazare’s movement will bring to surface the point that this agitation worked as a medicine, healing those wounds of the people which our political leadership refused to cure. If the politicians wanted, they could have easily done this job. But they knowingly refrained from taking the job thus alienating themselves from the people. It seems that our leaders have assumed that they only need to strike a communication with the masses during elections to seek votes. It is no secret, as the elections get over, the communication between most of the politicians with the voters is cut off. Their boundary for communication gets stuck with few of their party workers who periodically mobilise crowd for them. All this is triggering the democracy to fall apart. The leaders should realise that such political ways thwart democracy.

The hunger strike which Anna Hazare launched for Jan Lokpal Bill did not have support and backing of any political party. This movement had distanced itself from political parties, yet thousands of common people came forward in Delhi and other cities across the country to support Anna. Along with the inhabitants of the metros, people in towns and villages came out in the streets to show their solidarity to Anna’s movement because their leaders had highly disappointed them. The political parties realised their folly at last. And before things could go out of hand, they started pouring eulogies on same Anna Hazare, whose movement they tried to crush and dismissed his demands labeling them as anti-Parliamentary and anti-Constitutional. It isn’t that this was the first time when the people openly demonstrated their resentment towards the leadership. The public has done this even before. Witnessing small and big agitation against the ruling political parties in different parts of the country is not a rare sight. And amongst the many movements, there have been few where the masses participated voluntarily. There are very few instances which show the ruling party paying attention to these movements.

This was the first time, since the movement spearheaded by Jai Prakash Narayan, when such a huge population thronged the streets to show their protest. The people’s participation in Anna’s movement was phenomenal in every sense. One of the biggest reasons behind this awareness was the reaching out of the information and communication to the people, apart from their resentment against the leaders. Such a movement launched ten years back would have compelled Team Anna to run from pillar to post to garner the massive public support which they easily received now. The importance of information revolution in mass movements has also been visible in the Arab and African countries. In the present times, percolating information to the public and getting reaction and feedback has become much easier. The masses can be mobilised if served with the right information and able leadership. Anna, by all accounts, proved to be a credible leader. The common people were well aware of the fact that Anna was not on a hunger strike to serve his personal motives and his movement, in no way, would bring any personal gains for him. Anna’s movement has shaken ground beneath the feet of the leaders. All the leaders must be pondering how, after all, the public drifted away from them and went closer to Anna? The thought of recurrence of such movements in the future, which would compel them to formulate laws based on public demands, must be giving them sleepless nights? They should be concerned about such questions because the success of movement has inspired Anna to enforce the political parties further for other reforms.

The statements made by Anna, during his treatment in the hospital and later after reaching his village, clearly indicate that he will keep raking up questions related to public welfare. He has unambiguously put forth that formulating strong laws, related to social empowerment, protection of farmers and workers, is the need of the hour. The leaders of our country should rethink on these issues and on the Land Acquisition Act too. The farmers are facing a huge loss owing to the existing Land Acquisition Act. The way land is being acquired, will only profit the politicians or bureaucrats or entrepreneurs. The government is mulling about amending the Land Acquisition Act, but no one knows how long the procedure will take time. Police reforms, electoral reforms and administrative reforms are facing same treatment. The election process is under scanner for a long time, yet the electoral reforms have not seen the light of day. Electoral reforms are a must if we want to arrest the rising graft. The political ways have also become contaminated along with the electoral process. The political system of our country has become such that, whether be it a new leader or a veteran, all are compelled to undergo the same. Ironically, the political parties do talk about various reforms but have failed to reach a consensus. Not only this, when it comes to move ahead with the suggested reforms, they drag their feet backwards. If Anna Hazare launches a movement against these issues, the crowd will not take much time to show their solidarity given the mere verbal assurances of the political parties. If Anna again initiates a movement, owing to the lackadaisical attitude of the political parties, and once again the people of the country stand behind him, this will leave the leaders panting for some air. It would be better for them to seriously ponder over the issues mentioned by Anna, if they want to avoid confronting public ire once again. This thought process should be done within as well as outside the Parliament. 

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on September 4, 2011 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)