The UPA-2 Government is nothing less than forehead-deep in the mess they have created for themselves. It could have been done and gotten over with a long, long time ago but the government has consciously chosen the path of procrastination at the risk of yet another confrontation with Shree Anna Hazare and his enourmous following – of which there is no need for evidence.
The government has already shown its incapacity in effectively handing the situation during Anna’s two fasts, with minister after minister having to perform damage control during the fiascos. On both occasions just the bare minimum was done by the government to stall the movement – after the first fast, a panel was formed for discussion on the Lokpal, the lack of agreement therein resulted in the second fast; after the second fast the government took shelter by transferring all responsibility for coming to a decision to the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Lokpal. This further delay was portrayed as inevitable and a function of parliamentary procedures. Luckily for the government, this step was not unfounded and Team Anna finally accepted this. However, the government’s unwillingness for the constitution of a strong Lokpal structure was all but clear.
Viewing Anna’s one day fast as insignificant could prove costly for the government as it is a potent sign of public unhappiness stirring once again. Today, Anna has reiterated the call for a long agitation to eradicate corruption and the need for “sacrifice” in the fight for the cause. It is high time now for the government to realise that Anna will not relent regardless of their measures to detract or placate him and the supporting public. Anna’s intention to hold a longer agitation after December 27 and initiate a campaign against the Congress in the 5 states that are to hold assembly elections next year is a direct threat for the upheaval of status quo. Team Anna’s anti-congress campaign in the Hissar bypolls has already delivered a blow to the Congress Party wherein the campaign proved to be a contributing factor to their loss there.
The culmination of the standing committee’s intervention in the form of a report which was supported by only 12 MPs out of the 30 member committee has done little to allay fears that another serious agitation in on the way. This time again Anna has beckoned all parties to support the movement for Jan Lokpal and it seems that all opposition parties may join hands against the only side which has shown no interest in participating in the upcoming one-day protest: the UPA government.
Anna’s demand of the extension of the winter session of parliament if need be is something which the government needs to pay heed to. Currently, the government is showing no interest in speeding up the process, probably, out of the impression that the anti-graft movement has lost heat. This could prove to be a flawed understanding as all parallel developments, such as that regarding the involvement of Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the 2G scam affair or Communications minister Kapil Sibal’s remarks on the need for a mechanism for censoring content on social media websites, are all contributing to the current discourse on corruption. In addition, Anna has also commented on the manner in which the issue of the salaries and allowances of MPs is being promoted without “the people’s consent”.
The picture does not seem very encouraging and the water in the pot seems to be boiling again.