Anna Hazare and his team are once again staging protest against corruption. This time the hunger strike was started by the followers of Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Even Hazare is also going to start his fast-unto-death from Sunday. It will be noteworthy to see if the number of people attending the venue of protest rises after Anna Hazare joining the agitation. The relevance of the movement is being questioned given the thin presence of people at the site of the protest. Except to a few selected people from the civil society, the people’s participation in the hunger strike is much lower than the previous ones. Even the enthusiasm which was apparent during previous protests is also nowhere to be seen this time. When Anna staged his first hunger strike at Jantar Mantar and later after few months at Ramlila Ground, the people’s participation was really spectacular.

A comparatively lower participation of the people raises the question that even after repeated efforts of Team Anna to target the Centre over the issue of corruption, why the movement has failed to attract people in large numbers this time. This question has become even more pertinent in the wake of the government still applying time-wasting tactics over issue of the appointment of Lokpal. Even after making promises to Team Anna and the people of the country, the Centre is apparently not ready to move forward over the issue of Lokapl. Similar is the story of other political parties. In the special session of the Parliament which was held to discuss the issue of Lokpal, all the parties made tall claims and showed a lot of enthusiasm for early passes of Lokpal law but they did nothing in reality. All efforts went in vain. A whole year has passed since the promises were made for the early passage of anti-graft law, but no progress has been made as yet. After being cleared by the Lok Sabha, the Lokpal bill failed to get approval of the Rajya Sabha. Now it is pending before a committee of the Upper House and nobody knows about its future.

Team Anna believes that the bill prepared by the government is weak and ineffective. The way the draft bill has been forwarded to the Rajya Sabha committee which is apparently aloof over the issue, it clearly reflects that Centre is not keen to give it a form of law. Moreover, the government is consistently working to weaken the Team Anna and leaving no opportunity to target it. It is surprising that instead of taking strong initiatives to check corruption, the Union Ministers seem to be engaged in targeting Anna Hazare and his lieutenants. Even the unity of Team Anna is also being questioned as the media reports about dispute among its members have been appearing in recent time. The recent example is the preparing the list of allegedly corrupt ministers in the Union Cabinet. The list has also the name of Pranab Mukherjee who was recently elected as President. However, Anna Hazare has himself made it clear that he was personally against mentioning the name of Mukherjee in the list. Though, Team Anna tried its best to keep itself away from petty politics, its association with some of the opposition parties time and again has raised questions on its impartiality. The credibility of the movement has come under suspicion due to joining hands with Baba Ramdev, who every time lands himself in controversies for his statements. It appears that the Centre has assumed that Team Anna movement is confined      to mere making unsavory statements and has lost its momentum. Bitter comments may bring one to limelight, but they are no way going to have any impact on the functioning of the government. The weaknesses of the political parties are also responsible for this notion of the Centre. Centre is well aware of the fact that the issue of corruption raised by Team Anna and his associates is not merely concerned with them, rather almost all political parties are trapped in the mire of graft and malpractices. Opposition parties and the Centre are taking advantage of only this thing and this is the reason why no unanimity is being evolved to find ways to combat corruption. The uncertainty over the future of Lokpal is an example of it. What will be more disappointing than the fact that political parties are not ready to accept any form of Lokpal draft?

Team Anna should realize the fact that its anti-corruption crusade can provide solution to the menace of corruption to a very limited extent. The corruption prevalent at the lower level of governance cannot be checked by Lokpal institution. Without tackling the menace of corruption effectively, the problems being faced by the common people cannot be sorted out. The neck-dip corruption at the ground level is to be checked by the state governments. Everyone knows that corruption is not confined to the public sector but it has made inroads in the private sectors as well. Politics has become a synonym of corruption. Common people are worst hit by corruption which has badly disturbed their day to day life. State governments have to devise ways to give respite to the people. For this, there is a need for a clean administrative system as well as transparency in the implementation of the government schemes. Some state governments have definitely done a commendable job in this direction. They have enacted Lokpal laws in their respective states. Even then, the situation remains unchanged. If Chief Ministers take initiatives earnestly, they can build a system to curb malpractices. But nobody knows why they are not taking any such measures.

It is disappointing that Team Anna views Lokpal institution as only way to check rampant corruption in the country. Undoubtedly, Lokpal will be largely helpful in curbing corruption but it won’t be able to root out graft and sleaze. The intention of Team Anna is unambiguously honest, but the politicians of the country are well aware of the fact that methods of protest like hunger-strikes cannot be successful every time. Only massive gathering at the site of protest is not sufficient to strengthen the movement launched by Anna Hazare. Team Anna needs to galvanize thousands of such movements across the country for accomplishing their goal. Unless common people stand firmly against corruption, the menace cannot be curbed only by mere legislation. For this, the people may have to suffer lots of hardship, but unless they become aware of their responsibilities towards the nation and drop short-cut methods for achieving goals, the fight against corruption cannot achieve its goal.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on July 29, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)