A corrupt government devoid of moral authority is ill equipped to deal rationally with legitimate public anger. By ordering the illegitimate detention of Anna Hazare before he began his fast in support of stronger anti-corruption provisions in the Lokpal Bill and the arrest of a large number of peaceful protesters in the national capital, the United Progressive Alliance government revealed its ugly, repressive face. No representative government in a democracy can deny citizens their fundamental right to dissent and peaceful protest. Insisting on unreasonable, inequitable, and suspiciously contrived conditions that everyone knows the protesters cannot accept is tantamount to denial of the democratic right. Instead of honestly dealing with the issues raised by successive corruption scandals, the UPA government chose to cover up. When that became unsustainable, it resorted to slurs and dirty tricks, and incrementally raised the level of repression to smother voices demanding accountability and corrective institutional measures. It is no wonder that from time to time such a government gets into panic mode, miscalculates, and commits acts that everyone outside the regime recognises as politically stupid.

Despite several opportunities to reach a consensus with Team Anna and other sections of civil society for the framing of an effective Lokpal Bill, the Manmohan Singh government attempted to push through a farce of a Bill. That it misread the national public mood was obvious. Anna Hazare might have given the cause a face, but the anti-corruption movement that is now in a rapid phase of expansion across India does not depend on one man or his team. The real force that is shaking the UPA government — which is widely perceived as the most corrupt in the history of independent India — is made up of hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who are fed up with a system they believe is opaque, corrupt, and driven by greed. In the words of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India who has scrupulously kept himself above partisan politics, the recent events and findings have highlighted “the single biggest hindrance to India's growth — that is the corruption and degrading moral turpitude which is engulfing the nation like cancer.” What after all has made Team Anna the force it has become? It is the feeling among ordinary people across the land — a feeling strengthened by intense media coverage — that here is a rare opportunity to put in place a potent mechanism to end high-level corruption. If the UPA does not recognise the public anger against corruption, respect the ideals and values of democracy, and take steps to create a Lokpal that inspires confidence, there will be a political price to pay — perhaps well before the next general election.


No witch-hunting in name of fighting corruption: ManmohanApril 21, 2012

Government arrests Anna, then blinksAugust 16, 2011

Hazare arrest sparks angry protestsAugust 16, 2011

Left, Right join hands to corner governmentAugust 16, 2011

Jan Lokpal Bill regressive: Arundhati RoyAugust 30, 2011

Nation-wide protests against Anna’s detentionAugust 16, 2011

Parliament alone can make laws, says Manmohan August 17, 2011

Congress enlarges debate on Hazare protestAugust 17, 2011

Over thousand Hazare supporters detained in MaharashtraAugust 16, 2011

Anna arrest echoes in Parliament, both Houses adjournedAugust 16, 2011

Krishna Iyer urges Chief Justice to intervene August 17, 2011

Decision today on moving court, after consultations with HazareAugust 16, 2011

Police have no other option, says ChidambaramAugust 16, 2011

Dangerous precedentAugust 17, 2011

A rehearsal to Emergency, says Nitish KumarAugust 16, 2011

Hazare to begin fast on Ramlila grounds todayAugust 18, 2011

Team Anna, govt. strike deal; Hazare to begin fast on FridayAugust 18, 2011

Stupid indeedAugust 18, 2011

Hazare refuses to leave jail, opposes time limit on fastAugust 17, 2011

Crowds outside Tihar Jail wait for Anna’s appearanceAugust 17, 2011

‘Anna to come out only if allowed to fast without conditions’August 17, 2011

Hazare's path is misconceived: ManmohanAugust 17, 2011

‘Anna will leave jail only if allowed to fast unconditionally’August 17, 2011

It has become a common man's protest August 19, 2011

Left parties equate Manmohan’s statement with Indira’sAugust 18, 2011

I'd rather not be AnnaAugust 21, 2011

Lokpal: Documents, articles, key reports August 19, 2011

Hazare begins fast on Ramlila groundsAugust 19, 2011

Hazare rubbishes Cong. charge on BJP-RSS backing stir August 20, 2011

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