I feel like JK Rowling writing the Harry Potter series when I write this article as a sequel to the previous one on the same issue (The Lokpal Bill Issue and the Art of Mismanagement).
Now, where were we? We have already seen an international and a saffron conspiracy long back. Now, the story has had its twists and turns and has taken new forms. Now, its moved to being anti Islamic, a losing battle claimed by some to be akin to the one lost by our Indian cricket team, a first-slander-and-then-say-sorry routine, invoking a sour grapes response by a certain Ms Roy, some Bollywood support, and the emergence of a new fashion trend – the Gandhi topi.
Amidst all this, came a statement which I do not know which spin doctor in his right mind has ratified as proper PR — the Lokpal Bill had not been brought to Parliament under any pressure but as part of the commitment of the Congress and the UPA government – this ludicrous one liner came from the seasoned politico, Pranab Mukherjee. Do let me know how many of you laughed at that statement. When I mentioned it to a friend, his reaction was: “Yeah, like I’m the King of England!” Now Pranabda, there was no pressure? Really? And the Congress was committed to it? Then, what’s the problem in implementing it, or even discussing it?
Well, ask me what I feel it is: just further mismanagement of an already hopelessly mismanaged issue — only difference being this time being that everyone seems to be reveling in adding to the issue. Now, is this a part of the strategy to manage this issue by bringing in so many distractions that one loses track of the focal point?
Why do I say it’s mismanaging the issue? Simple, when you are down in the dumps, you would rather play along than play against and create more headaches for yourself. You would ideally come out, start on a new slate and salvage your reputation instead of further digging your own grave.
Now, what should our government do then? Play along and come clean? How? Here you go:
- Go ahead and talk to the other party. There is nothing more convincing than having open talks. Go ahead and extend an olive branch — they are your countrymen after all. When you have all the olive branches in the world for the people across the borders, and that too you have extended these branches for 64 years with no success whatsoever, what’s wrong in extending it to your own countrymen?
- Do not issue advertisements now in newspapers asking people what they think of the Bill after all this high drama. If you really wanted to know what they feel, you should have done it much earlier.
- Stop using the Internet to run a proxy slander campaign. The other party used it very wisely to gain support for their cause. You could use it wisely too, by presenting your side of the Bill and your arguments for and against what is being asked. Do not use it instead to say how there is a saffron conspiracy etc — that issue is an old cow you can’t milk it any further.
- Stop digging into Anna’s past — it doesn’t help. Personal mudslinging doesn’t take one anywhere.
- Stop trying to say the Civil Society members want to make the law themselves and will make the Bill themselves. Anyone who has studied “civics” in school will tell you that a Bill is discussed in Parliament and has to be ratified by both Houses to become an Act.
- Don’t indulge in slander and then apologise. Please remember you can’t pinch the baby and rock the cradle too. If you think that you can create damage first, and then by saying sorry you come out looking as white as a lily, then sorry, you are mistaken. The strategy only makes you appear juvenile.
- Please invest in a good spin doctor/PR agent; the existing guys make your statements sound like a joke — it doesn’t help to say that the Bill was your initiative when you fight tooth and nail to oppose the same Bill. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if they say they were the one who fought the British and got Indians their freedom!
- If you really want to be known as a government that introduced a Bill for the common good, and if you really mean what you say about your intentions regarding the Bill, please do take some suggestions.
Now this issue has also raised a host of other questions and reactions over the last few days.
Is it anti Islamic to say Vande Mataram? This is apparently the slogan being shouted at the protest venue. If it is, then please translate it into Urdu or Arabic or even Greek and say whatever has to be said. Still better, don’t say anything, but participate in the protest. By the way how is it that this slogan becomes an issue only now, when the protest has been on for some months and the same slogan had been raised even then? Is this a method to create division?
Is Anna’s cause a battle lost like the one our beloved cricket team lost? NO. Any change that one tries to bring about needs to go through such obstacles, and that is what is happening here. It’s not a loss unless those who are eager to brand the entire Anna movement a failure wish to call it and feel happy to do so. We as a nation are anyway experts at writing off any new venture. Same here. So for those who still oppose it, go ahead, you are exhibiting classic Indian qualities.
I did read a comment somewhere that people were supporting Anna event though they didn’t know what the Bill he was suggesting encompassed. So all Indians are legal luminaries, constitutional experts and have doctorates in every other subject they have supported so far? What the person making the comment didn’t probably understand was majority people believe that Anna wants to bring about a change and trust him to do it. Anna himself says this is not the end solution, but a beginning towards the end solution.
As for being a case of sour grapes for Ms Roy who proclaimed that she didn’t want to be Anna, that she found the flag waving to be aggressive nationalism and choreographed, and that the protest was to overthrow the Indian State — good imagination. I have a question for her. Supporting Kashmiri separatists protesting and waving Pakistani flags in Indian territory is okay, but supporting a cause where people wave Indian flags is not? It’s not that you don’t want to be Anna, Ms Roy, you cannot be Anna. So leave it at that.
As for the Bollywood support for Anna’s cause, they are citizens of this country too. So what’s wrong if they are supporting a cause they believe in? Also, on the positive side, it will enable quite a number of star-obsessed Indians to join the protest because their favourite star did so (yes, sadly there is one lot like that too). You really can’t improve some of our countrymen.