Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Team Anna has to be like Caesar's wife

 That the government would strike back at Team Anna members was a forgone conclusion when the anti-corruption movement gathered steam. And especially after Anna Hazare's super successful fast in Delhi. The government, and especially the Congress, feels embarrassed and lame as a perception was built that Team Anna brought the government to its knees and that without them, the government would have never passed a strong Lokpal bill.

Moreover, Anna Hazare and his team members were trying to take every opportunity to strike at the government. With the people supporting them and having created a favourable environment for themselves, Team Anna had tasted its success in the limelight. The Congress had to do something about it and show them, who's the boss. The Congress had a perception that it was cornered. And it decided to strike back with every weapon possible. Remember the Hindi idiom डूबते हुए को तिनके का सहारा. 

The first target was Anna Hazare himself. Digvijay Singh, who is inflicted by a perpetual foot-in-the-mouth disease constantly tried to prove that the anti-corruption movement is nothing but a front for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). And he used very lame evidences, such as RSS chief's letter of support to justify his statements. However, the people are reluctant to believe this. Even if RSS was with Anna Hazare on the issue of corruption, people will not mind because they are heavily affected by corruption and would want to see it finished once and for all.

The second case, which was presented was against Arvind Kejriwal. The RTI activist had applied for voluntary retirement from his services and perhaps left the job. The IT department, which was his former employer, refused to accept his application on account of some bond being broken by Kejriwal. The question is, why did the IT department take so long to give its decision. Moreover, how was Kejriwal  so careless in not realising that he hadn't fulfilled the conditions for retirement? After that, he first made a statement that he had not broken any bond. Then, after a few days, he said he will take a loan from a friend to repay the claims made by his department so that he can be released from service. These flip-flops strengthen the notion that he indeed was involved in procedural lapses and his employer was correct in dismissing his application.

And Kiran Bedi takes the cake of all. This was with evidence. She claimed business class air-fare for travelling to deliver talks, while she actually travelled economy class, whose fare too was discounted for her as she was a gallantry medal winner. If she had requested her hosts (some of which were NGOs) to pay her business class fare and she would divert the excess amount to the NGO, then it would have been completely acceptable. After all, the hosts had a choice in saying whether their money should be used in such a manner. Moreover, she could have requested the hosts to give the excess fare as donation to her NGO, which would have also resulted in further tax benefit for the hosts. But by not doing this, she has damaged her credibility to a certain extent. Although she says, there was no mala fide intent in claiming excess fare, as it was her entitlement, she is not supposed to submit false bills to claim the fare. Remember, those NGOs are many times funded by the government, through taxpayers' money and also through donations that individuals make out of their hard earned money. Bedi has no right to claim that money through submission of inflated bills.

Reputation is like glassware. One crack and it is almost impossible to restore it. Integrity of the character is what made the people of India place their faith in Team Anna. Moreover, the media has placed them on a high pedestal, which the people view as worthy for only those with an impeccable character. Team Anna, therefore, has to be like Caesar's wife- above suspicion. Caesar divorced his wife, Pompeia, just because she was suspected of having an affair with Clodius. He did this to indicate that only a woman who is above any kind of suspicion is fit to be his wife. Will Anna Hazare become Julius Caesar? Strong character itself can earn you a place in history.
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