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Anti-Anna voices grow louder

Voices against Anna Hazare, so far inaudible in the course of his high-decibel campaign, are getting louder. Zia Haq reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 23, 2011 02:22 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times

Voices against Anna Hazare, so far inaudible in the course of his high-decibel campaign, are getting louder.

A section of civil society activists, Dalit leaders and some legal experts are gearing up to counter the Hazare wave. Their gripe: Hazare’s movement is teetering on the edge of “fascism”.

Udit Raj, a Dalit heavyweight and head of the All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, will storm India Gate on August 24 with followers to launch his ‘Save the Constitution’ movement. It is aimed at opposing Hazare.

Driven largely by urban folks, the ‘Anna wave’ has laid itself bare to charges of being an upper-caste mobilisation, alienating Dalits and Muslims. The right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's open support has only reinforced that notion.

On Monday, human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi kicked off a protest in Mumbai. She called Hazare’s movement “violent” and is set to travel to several states to garner support. “For anybody to say ‘accept Jan Lokpal bill in 18 days flat’ is a violent statement. Violence needn't be physical alone,” Hashmi told HT.

Those who supported Hashmi’s views in Mumbai included Ram Puniyani, who years ago quit a teaching job at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, to fight rightwing organisations.

“Bills and law-making are not two-minute noodles," Hashmi added. Hazare’s campaign has also riled Dalit leaders because it is being seen militating against the Constitution, crafted by India's most well-known Dalit, BR Ambedkar.

“No doubt corruption is rampant. But the fight against it should not undermine the Constitution made by Dr Ambedkar. Why is there not a single representation from Dalits, or backwards or minorities in Team Anna?” Raj, also the chief of Justice Party, asks.

Veteran Dalit leaders such as Anand Teltumbde accuse Hazare of demanding creation of an unaccountable post of ombudsman with sweeping powers, to be chosen by a few worthies.

“Hazare is indulging in demagogic, blackmailing tactics,” Teltumbde said.

“The ultimate aim of man," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, “is to play God. Anna is succumbing to that temptation.” Bhatt is set to join Hashmi to publicise the “hazards” of what he calls is an “undemocratic uprising”.

First Published: Aug 22, 2011 23:58 IST