-The Times of India
Team Anna's latest spectacle is beset by many contradictions
That Team Anna's anti-corruption protests still manage to draw crowds attests to the extent of the popular anger against official corruption. Anna Hazare, by embarking on an indefinite fast - his fourth since last April - hopes to recapture the vigour of earlier phases of the civil society movement led by him. But that is easier said than done.
As part of its pressure tactics Team Anna is now levelling indiscriminate charges against political leaders, including the president and the prime minister, without much supporting evidence. What renders this suspect is the selective manner of targeting leaders. Barring a stray exception, all are ministers of the Union cabinet as if the rest of the political class is squeaky-clean. To confuse matters further, one member of the team spews fire and brimstone against the newly-elected president only to be contradicted the very next day by Anna himself. Likewise, zealous supporters of Team Anna deface the walls of the prime minister's residence with an ugly word even as the self-styled Gandhian issues a public apology later.
Add to this the tensions between the two mascots of the movement - Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. One day they come together, but a whispering campaign begins in both camps to deny each other the credit for drawing crowds to the venue of the protest. The yoga guru then comes under fire from a member of Team Anna for hailing Narendra Modi as a crusader against corruption in Gujarat. Modi, in the eyes of Team Anna, is a 'murderer of humanity'. Anna's own praise for Modi a few months ago was somehow forgotten in this offensive. Such flip-flops remind one of what was once said about President Ronald Reagan: Reagan's right hand does not know what his right hand does, let alone the left one.
Convinced that it alone stands for truth and rectitude in public life, Team Anna feels free to castigate those who cast doubts about the way the movement has evolved. Fasts-unto-death are themselves an authoritarian method of resolving issues. Perhaps the one redeeming feature in this spectacle is Anna's decision to back clean candidates in the 2014 elections. The movement would do well to act as a pressure group for clean politics. As for the government, there are steps it can take to neutralise the Anna Hazare movement. Parliament must swiftly pass a Lokpal Bill that meets the legitimate expectations of the country.