By T S Sudhir
Once bitten, twice shy. That’s precisely how MMS & Co reacted to the second `uprising’ of civil society in two months in Delhi. Pushed to a corner by Anna Hazare’s outing at Jantar Mantar in April, the UPA obviously concluded that handling such men in the fast lane with kidgloves, wasn’t the best gameplan. So Kapil (Dev) Sibal was brought into the attack, first to test Baba Ramdev with his legal line and length, before finally sending him back to the pavilion with an outswinger. The catch was taken by Delhi Police, which typically, almost made a mess of it.
Cricketing jargon apart, the UPA has clearly had enough of being painted as `uncivil’. And in the bargain, doesn’t know whether to be civil or uncivil. It showed its civil face by sending four senior ministers to Delhi airport to receive Baba Ramdev. But when it realised that Baba, even while fasting, was trying to chew more than he could eat, it talked tough. With a confused approach, the UPA government only ended up creating a crisis when none existed.
The genesis of the problem is with the Congress leadership’s refusal to accept that corruption, nepotism and inefficiency are issues that agitate the common man today. And the worst offenders in this regard, at least in public perception, are Congress and Congress allies-ruled states. The party even refuses to see the writing on the wall in the election results last month, when the `corrupt’ DMK got unceremoniously dumped in the Marina Beach. How the squeaky clean image of VS almost brought the LDF back to power in Kerala. How the voters of West Bengal decided they had enough of the high-handedness of the Reds.
Instead the Congress has let loose its fidayeens, the Digvijays and the Amar Singhs. Diggy Raja suddenly discovers that Baba is a fraud, a thug, an RSS man. And I won’t be surprised if Amar Singh suddenly `finds’ a seedy CD of a chat with Ramdev and the next few weeks, the country will be running to forensic labs, listening to Amar’s Chitra kathas.
Ramdev may be at the centre of this all, but the issue, let’s be clear, is not about Baba. Or even an Anna. The problem is with the government not acting in a manner that will make the people trust its sincerity on issues that matter. This country has had enough of the Congress vs BJP debates on your corruption vs my corruption. Baba may well be a black sheep. It is for agencies to investigate how he earned his `wool’ to buy an island in Scotland and move around in a private jet. But that cannot become an excuse for the government to scuttle the Lokpal Bill. With CWG, Adarsh and 2G, the UPA and Mr Clean MMS can hardly claim to be providing a `clean’ government.
Another problem is with the `first’ family’s obsession with taking credit only when it suits them and passing the buck when it doesn’t. Everyone knows who actually calls the shots in this government. So why make poor MMS the scapegoat while the mother and son walk away with their halo intact. Sonia and her Amul baby have to speak out on where they stand on the anger of the so-called civil society. It is not enough for Rahul to make a guest appearance at 4 am and hitch a ride to get into the badlands of Mayaland to prove his heart beats for the right people. I wonder if he is ashamed to be an Indian today as well.
The midnight arrest on World environment day, not only vitiates the environment, but also proves Murphy’s law is working overtime for the UPA. There are leaders within the Congress, UPA and the BJP standing in a corner, hoping the Baba’s saffron surge will benefit them politically. Civil society, with or without candles, has to guard against political vultures hoping to take advantage.
The fight against corruption cannot be a T20-like affair especially when the virus has been playing Test cricket for so many years now. But one thing is certain. It is no longer a gentleman’s game.