Baba Ramdev, the yoga guru, has announced that he is anti-Congress. His dharna was risible, to say the least, till he coined his slogan to save India: “Congress hatao, desh bachao.” The slogan made it clear that Ramdev was putting his weight behind the National Democratic Alliance for the forthcoming general elections. The number of Ramdev’s followers will vary: sometimes there will be more people, sometimes less. But when the time comes for them to cast their votes by pressing the ‘secret’ button, they may well vote for another dispensation. That is what democratic politics is about, unlike the political culture characterized by ‘blind following’, non-questioning and devotion that gurus demand.
A guru who is determined to weed out corruption and introduce fair play should be poised, articulate, a person of integrity, and one who treats everyone as equal. Cleansing begins at home. Breaking the law; disturbing honest citizens by blocking roads for the baba and his band to walk in a procession; grabbing media attention by the use of outlandish language; getting film stars and politicians to endorse the anti-corruption protest without making them accountable for the black money they may be using in their political and business transactions; using ‘donations’ that are also unaccountable, and so on, do not lend credibility to a social movement that claims that it wants to change the world.
It is easy to bring together thousands who are free, footloose, disgruntled or unemployed to fill pandals and wave flags. This kind of jamboree can only lead to rampant anarchy where individuals will take the law in their hands, believing that they are right and the others are wrong. This is not democracy. It is lumpenism.
Some questions need to be asked in this context. Why has Ramdev and his fellow travellers — Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and their fundraisers — not set out the standards and norms for stopping the black money demanded in every rural and urban land and real estate transaction in India? Are they suggesting that overseas black money is all that they are concerned about? It is a known fact that money from the Swiss bank accounts has come back to India and has been invested in land and property, driving the prices over the top in the cities as well as in smaller towns. Will Bedi and Kejriwal, if and when they decide to fight an election, refuse to accept black money or freebies from corporates? Will they instead bank on ideas to win their seats? Will they tell us how they will govern their constituency when elected? It is time to put an end to the screaming and the shouting that we are being compelled to listen to on television. This is a hugely irksome exercise. We need to know what goes on in their minds.
Looking at the holier-than-thou spectacle at the Ramlila Maidan filled one with despair. It was a ridiculous line-up on stage of people who are going to fight corruption. Equally absurd were the assurances of those who could not be present in person. Can the likes of Mayavati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitin Gadkari, Sharad Pawar and the rest put their hands on the heads of their children or grandchildren and swear that they will not use a single paisa from undeclared sources of money when they fight the next election?
It is time to clean the mess in each and every leader’s house. Election money, to cite just one example, has to come from somewhere and India knows well where it comes from and in lieu of what. It is time the saviours stop the fraud and cease fooling the public. Firm and corrective action must be initiated. India will not be fooled much longer.