What next common man?


It was a little ironic that the poster boy for the parliamentarians during the Lok Sabha debate on the Lokpal Bill was none other than Lallu Prasad Yadav. MPs cutting across party lines were probably nodding in agreement silently and internally when he spoke of the noose tightening around their necks. Fine role model of probity in public life speaking on a bill that aims at tackling corruption, Mr Lallu lost his Chief Ministership of Bihar when he was chargesheeted in the fodder scam. And clung on to power through proxy by foisting his wife into politics and directly on to the Chief Minister’s chair. One of Lallu’s remarks during the debate was, ‘laws are not made on the streets, they are made in the parliament’. And then, late night of 28 December, two MPs from Lallu’s party, Rajniti Prasad and Ramkripal Yadav, gave a fine example of the dignity of parliament by snatching papers from a minister and tearing them up before flinging them. It is for the people to decide whose conduct is more dignified – the ones protesting on the streets or the parliamentarians like Prasad and Yadav.

The manner in which the whole drama of the Lokpal Bill has unfolded in the last few days has, if anything, lowered the standing of the political class in the eyes of the people even further – possibly to an all time low. Whether it was muddying the waters by introducing reservation for SC / STs / OBCs and minorities in the Lokpal, or the panicked adjournment of the parliament at midnight – the reasons and motives behind each of these shenanigans has not escaped the eyes of the people.

If the government thinks that the low turnout of people during Anna Hazare’s fast in Mumbai indicates a loss in the popularity of his movement or message, it may be in for a rude shock shortly. The reasons for the turnout is being and will be analyzed dissected and debated at length in the comings weeks. But if the government thinks that it was because the anti corruption movement is on the wane, and if its bravado in parliament and on television arises from this belief, it needs to think again.

It takes more than a few statements twisted around by the media, attempts to dig up dirt against members of his team, or the alleged alignment with some elements, for the people to lose their faith. It has taken almost 60 years of constant abuse and misuse of power for them to lose faith in the political class. Popularity of the Anna movement arose from this loss of faith – a feeling of helplessness channelized into action by a straight talking mild mannered person who had no axe to grind. Coming after the phenomenal popularity of movies like Rang De Basanti and Lage Raho Munnabhai, which popularized peaceful protests by common people as a means to take on the high and mighty, the movement has demonstrated to the people that this is a viable alternative.

The fact is that people are fed up with politicians. Whether it is corruption, lack of development, dynastic rule, or the increasing arrogance of the political class – they have all combined to bring down the image of politicians in the country to a new low. And the happenings in parliament have only reinforced this.

So the people will definitely express themselves. Whether they do so by participating in the next round of activities by Anna Hazare, or whether they will rally around another Anna – but express themselves they will.

We, the people, await that moment with bated breath.