Sunday, 17 April 2011

RSS bid to take over Anna Hazare's movement backfires, helps scam-hit Congress

Gandhian Anna Hazare's movement against corruption evoked an unprecedented response from across the country, particularly, the middle-class and youths.

But just when the Congress-led UPA government was appearing to be cornered and the party think tank was worried as to how they should deal with this surge of popular emotions, something unexpected happened.

One after the other, controversial personalities linked to RSS seemed to take over Anna's movement. From Uma Bharati to Ram Madhav, almost everybody in the Hindutva Parivar was keen to reach Jantar Mantar and offer its solidarity to Anna's 'Aandolan' on the Lokpal bill issue.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev who is known for his pro-BJP and Hindutva links seemed to be taking over the agitation. The growing Saffron presence was visible not just in the form of posters and banners at the venue. But, the slogans chanted at the 'dharna' were also turning right-wing and in accordance with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's ideology.

Anna may be a naive person. But the statements, particularly, his praising Narendra Modi, was the final nail in the coffin of the movement. Modi himself hasn't appointed a Lokayukta in Gujarat for years. And everyone knows that there is a problem with his acceptability over the issue of post-Godhra riots.

So Anna fell in the trap. The campaign that had taken along a vast majority of Indians including the young generation and the generally apathetic middle-class was now losing its direction. When activists said that 'everybody' was 'welcome' in the 'fight against corruption', it signalled a clear Hindutva takeover.

Poor Anna lost his credibility. The central government that was on the backfoot was no longer as shaky. After all, there seemed chinks in the agitation. The secular Indian was worried, as he had seen VP Singh's anti-corruption fight leading to a parallel rise of right-wing that caused the demolition of Babri Masjid.

One after the other, the corruption cases ranging from 2G spectrum case to CWG (Commonwealth Games) mess had put the Congress in an embarrassing position. Anna Hazare's fast had stirred citizens, led to public anger and had shaken the government.

Surely government agencies must have been doing their best to discredit Anna and his movement. They had failed so far. But RSS' over-activism gave the government a shot in the arm. It made the government's job easy. Soon came the statements from all corners

The sudden allegation of nepotism over the presence of Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant Bhushan by Ramdev were even more surprising. Narendra Modi's statement that Anna would be targeted for praising him and later the CD row, led to even more confusion.

What was turning into the most powerful mass movement in recent Indian history was killed. The surprising (and immature) role of RSS and its political front BJP is all the more surprising in the entire episode as the movement was eventually going to help the BJP.

So will the BJP explain it?

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