Is Anna the JP 2.0?

Post date: Aug 28, 2011 10:41:32 PM

(SACRIR Desk: Agenda Bharat)

By A Chattopadhyay, SACRIR

Whether Ramlila Ground is the Tahrir Square of India is still not clear, but I can clearly see the shadow of Jaiprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, in Anna Hazare. JP shook the largest democracy in protest against Indira Gandhi's 'Emergency' of 1975. It was the same Ramlila Ground, where amidst more than a hundred thousand people, JP asked Indira to resign. Deja vu. Looking at the huge crowd of youth uttering 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' ('Hail Mother India') in Anna's Ramlila, it seems JP has returned.

JP was a Leftist who slightly got tweaked to a Gandhian socialist after joining Indian National Congress. But he could never remain that loyal to Congress. A Gandhian declaring 'Total Revolution' against the slaughtering of democracy caused the death of Congress government at New Delhi. The first non and anti-Congress government could never be a reality without JP's warcry. Anna Hazare, another Gandhian socialist perhaps lags in JP's oratory but is no lesser deity.

Anna's movement demanding Janlokpal Bill, the umbrella ombudsman legislation, is aimed at eliminating corruption from Indian civil life. It sounds as Utopian as did JP seeking an end to Indira Gandhi's authoritarianism and nepotism. Both appeared, at times, as things too tightly entwined with Indian psyche. Never forget, 'Indira was India' in those days.

Anna is often seen as JP's avatar for some of his grass-root social activism as well. His model village Ralegan Siddhi and rainwater harvesting, crop rotation, self-reliant village might sound too idealistic in a free-trade, less-government modern society but are realities. As real were JP's Sarvodaya and Bhudan movements focusing village upliftment. JP was rubbished by many mainstream politicos. Anna has been ridiculed too.

Interestingly enough, socialist JP's 'Total Revolution' never assumed the 'Indian Right' as untouchables. The Hindu Nationalist group, namely Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and allied political front Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) leaders were in full collaboration with JP. His Navnirman revolution of 1970's against corruption of Gujarat provincial head Chimanbhai Patel of Congress grew up on foundations created by RSS. Anna's Janlokpal movement, similarly, is now receiving moral backing and manpower from RSS and other organizations perceived as right-wingers, e.g. Swami Ramdev's Bharat Swabhiman Trust.

It took more than a week, although, for the center-right opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a literal successor of BJS, to lend full-fledged support to Anna Hazare publicly. BJP's upcoming possible Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi has held multiple occasions to throw his weight behind Anna.

Few of Modi's Tweets go as:

@NarendraModi: "Nation concerned about Anna’s health. Congress talks of democracy & parliament but uses anti-democratic means to wipe out Anna’s movement"

@NarendraModi: "My request to dear tweeples: let us expose each of the undemocratic means used to curb Anna’s movement through tweets"

It is believed by many that during Navnirman revolution, Modi, a then young RSS volunteer, came to JP's notice!

After Indira's great fall, ministry in 1977 at New Delhi with Morarji Desai as Prime Minister was an unusual coalition of center-right BJS and center-left Janata. Anna wave has potential to dig down Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi's government. Political pundits are not ruling out possibility of a mid-term election too. India's center-right is no more a minor party but principal opponent in parliament. Will a post-Anna fall-out see the return of India's center-right? Only time can tell that. But Anna Hazare is surely JP 2.0 of India.