A post-Anna politics
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Anna Hazare, himself a veteran of many a campaign against corruption in the past, was sober and understated enough to describe his victory as "aadha" (half) after receiving a letter from the prime minister conveying Parliament's resolve to discuss three critical issues emerging from the Jan Lokpal draft. He also thanked parliamentarians, and admitted that a whole lot remained to be done in the battle against corruption.
He realises that this time round (unlike in the past when he confined himself to the Maharashtra region) his campaign has seized the nation's imagination, and will create unprecedented expectations in regard to some concrete steps being taken against corruption in the near future. Such expectations, scary as they may appear, will have to be managed by both Anna Hazare and the political class as things return to normal in the weeks and months ahead.
If one looks at Hazare's style carefully, he appears very rigid about his demands when he is fasting. However, he is quite flexible and pragmatic when dealing with the political class in normal times. This showed in the easy and natural personal interactivity he has with some Maharashtra politicians, such as Vilasrao Deshmukh and others, who are not exactly perceived as paragons of clean politics. It was also interesting to see that finally two Congress leaders, Deshmukh and Sandeep Dikshit, were allowed to be part of Team Anna's victory recital of the national anthem from the high stage at the Ramlila maidan. Earlier, Anna Hazare had been very careful not to allow political leaders to use their platform.
The Anna Hazare campaign, such as it was, will have a lasting impact both in political and systemic terms. Politically, the mainstream parties were startled at the support that progressively developed for Hazare during his 12-day fast. The presence of youth cutting across class, regions, religions and possibly caste would have got mainstream parties worried. The insecurity of some regional and caste-based party leaders in the Lok Sabha was visible during the debate, as they questioned whether there was anything in the Jan Lokpal bill for the poorest among the Dalits, backwards and Muslims. The DMK expressed worry over some provisions which could change the federal character of the constitution. Which is why speaker after speaker from the Congress kept giving assurances that the provisions of Jan Lokpal bill would be considered only within the contours of the present constitutional arrangement.
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