The anti-corruption movement is very important. The impression must not be created that it is a fractured movement, writes Ramaswamy R. Iyer
Respected Anna Hazareji,
I have for long been a great admirer of yours. The social mobilisation and moral transformation that you brought about in Ralegan Siddhi in the 1980s was a truly historic achievement. You went on to bring about another and even bigger achievement two decades later, namely a national anti-corruption mass movement. With this, you became a national and even international figure of great importance and put corruption firmly on the national agenda.
Against that background I am distressed and dismayed at some recent developments. One knows that Arvind Kejriwal and you parted ways over the issue of forming a political party. It should be possible to maintain those differences without any loss of mutual regard.
While maintaining your reservations on the conversion of a movement into a political party, you could have been generous enough to wish Arvind well in his efforts to cleanse the system in his own way. Initially you made some positive remarks about his dramatic electoral success, but your tone changed very soon. You became critical, tried to downplay his success by claiming that he would have done better if you had campaigned for him, obliquely suggested doubts about AAP’s funding, and made snide remarks about people who go before cameras. The tone and tenor of these attacks seem uncharacteristic of you. As an admirer of yours, may I implore you to get away from these aberrations and revert to your innate greatness and nobility of nature?
On the Lokpal Bill (now a law), you are ready not merely to accept a compromise but to do so enthusiastically. I am mystified by this dramatic change in your attitude from what it was a year ago. AAP is still adhering to your earlier position of a firm stand on the Jan Lokpal Bill. My own view is that the law now passed, however imperfect, is a useful start, and is certainly a historic development. However, AAP is entitled to its views. This again is a legitimate difference of views.
You seem to regard the passing of this law as a personal victory. No one will wish to dispute that claim. However, the shaking up of politics caused by the recent Assembly elections brought about a change in the thinking of the political parties, and this partly accounts for the sudden willingness to pass a Lokpal law. Thus, AAP’s electoral success also had something to do with this development, even though AAP itself is critical of the new law.
A combination of circumstances brought about the quick passing of a law, a development that would have been inconceivable not very long ago.
The anti-corruption movement is very important. The impression must not be created that it is a fractured movement. Unfortunately, it seems to me that having started a great revolution you are now weakening that revolution yourself by your attacks on a former trusted lieutenant who still remains your disciple though you have disowned him. He has no doubt chosen a different path, but he and you are on the same side in the battle against corruption.
AAP itself is an offshoot of the movement that you started. If AAP can claim a part of the credit for the passing by Parliament of the Lokpal law (though they consider it weak), you in turn can claim AAP’s electoral success as partly your own because it is the outcome of the movement that you started. If you keep this in mind, much of the misunderstanding will disappear. This is as much an appeal to Arvind Kejriwal as to you.
With respectful salutations, warm regards and best wishes,
Ramaswamy R. Iyer
(The writer is a former Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India)