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Will Anna influence Hisar outcome?

delhi Updated: Oct 11, 2011 01:02 IST
Vinod Sharma
Vinod Sharma
Hindustan Times
Team Anna

Will the poll outcome in Hisar prove Team Anna’s ability to swing elections on the Jan Lokpal issue? That’s what Arvind Kejriwal would have one believe, moving around in a Toyota Fortuner and exhorting people to banish the Congress for its refusal to accept Anna’s version of the proposed law.

Now Hisar is Kejriwal’s native place. His presence there is a violation of Anna Hazare’s own deadline for the bill’s
passage in Parliament’s winter session. To top it all, the letter of support he has from the BJP’s Nitin Gadkari is only a qualified endorsement of Anna’s draft.

A resolution reflecting the “sense” of Parliament on the issue was passed in its monsoon session with specific reference to three issues: establishment of lokayuktas in states, citizens’ charter for service delivery and making the lower bureaucracy accountable to the Lokpal through appropriate mechanism.

The resolution has the backing of all parties that have a legislative presence in Parliament. But the goal posts have since been shifted with Team Anna reverting to their seemingly impossible demand for placing the judiciary under the envisioned Ombudsman. It’s an issue on which no party, including the BJP and the Left, is in agreement with them.
The BJP wants for its part a national judicial commission to oversee the judiciary.

There also aren’t any takers across parties for Anna’s formula to get MPs’ hauled up by the Lokpal for their conduct in the House.

The move would require a constitutional amendment, no matter what Kejriwal says or argues by way of “people’s supremacy” over Parliament. It’s this kind of obsession with popular democracy that’s subverting institutional democracy which is a sure recipe for chaos.

Team Anna’s anti-Congress pitch is legitimate because citizens have the right to campaign against parties and individuals. What’s questionable really is their claim that Anna’s version of the Lokpal has support from candidates pitted against Congress’s Jai Parkash — the BJP-backed Haryana Janhit Congress’s Kuldeep Bishnoi and INLD’s Ajay Chautala.

Kejriwal’s bluff is called by the antecedents of the possible beneficiaries of his tactics. None among the lead contestants is a paragon of virtues by Anna’s standards.

A local lad that he is, the former IRS officer should’ve known better. Kuldeep’s victory will be a victory of the distasteful legacy of his father, Bhajan Lal, against whose name stands the Aaya Ram Gaya Ram phenomenon in Indian politics.

It’ll be even worse if Chautala wins, symbolize as he does, like Jai Parkash, the pernicious combination of money and muscle power in electoral politics.

There’s more to the myths propagated by Kejriwal. His bid to show the election as a referendum on the Congress is suggestive of a tacit tie-up with the RSS appointed Gadkari who has made similar claims. But the arrangement is deniable in the manner Anna discounted Mohan Bhagwat’s assertions of the Sangh’s role in his Ramlila maidan spectacle.

Even a cursory look at the poll lineup would show that Bhishnoi has an edge in the triangular battle against Jat contenders expected to split the powerful community’s vote to his advantage. Jai Parkash had come third in the 2009 election won by Bishnoi’s father. On what basis then can Kejriwal claim equity in a repeat defeat of the Congress?
Team Anna can at best reduce or bolster victory margins; they cannot say they sent the winner to Parliament.

Particularly outlandish in this context is Kejriwal’s logic of defeating the Congress and getting the winner, if he’s corrupt, hauled over the coals by the promised Lokpal.

What a brazen disregard of the electorate’s native wisdom!