The Anna Hazare movement which is rightly recognized as a “Freedom Struggle” for  “  Freedom from Corruption” has gone much beyond the Jantar Mantar, the Ramlila Grounds and reached the global platform. Protest rallies are occurring not only in other cities in India but have been reported from other countries as well. It has also inspired Pakistan which shares the history of  “Satyagraha” culture in undivided India. During this week smaller towns in India will start reacting to the movement with their own contributions. We may therefore say that the movement has now passed the critical stage and acquired the capability of self sustenance.

For the last few days the UPA leaders have been silent and watching the growing public support for the movement. Obviously one can imagine that there is a serious discussion about a way out. Let us see the options.

1. Can the movement be crushed with force?

The Government has found that arresting Mr Anna resulted in the movement gaining further ground. It is no longer an option. However if Anna continues his fast Government may on medical advice secure him and move him off Ramlila grounds to break the momentum.

If there is any violence (which can also be engineered by vested interests) Government can use it an excuse to remove Mr Anna from the fast scene.

Though it is clear that the movement has gained a mass base and may intensify if Mr Anna is forcibly arrested or detained one cannot rule out the possibility of such harsh measures from the Government including an attempt to declare “Emergency”. Unfortunately for those who have lived through 1975 the similarities of JP movement and the present movement is too glaring to ignore.

Such a development would be a sad turn of events to this movement.

2. Can be public attention be diverted?

One strategy that the UPA may use is to ask Mr Man Mohan Singh to step down and bring Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister. He can then take a little time for setting things right and in the process divert the attention of the public. This will be most palatable to Congress and hence the most likely possibility.

However in the current state of the agitation it is unlikely that the diversionary tactic would succeed.

3. What if the Jan Lokpal Bill is Presented as desired?

Now that Varun Gandhi has taken steps to present the Jan LokPal bill as a private member’s Bill, it is likely that the Government may try to prevent him getting the credit  by withdrawing the present Bill and introducing both versions of the Bill to the parliament and referring both to the Standing committee.

Such a move would put a comma to the movement at least for the next few days.

The history of standing committees is that the process of clearance is a long drawn process and it could easily be dragged on until the present Parliament is dissolved in due course. Then it becomes an election issue and a new chapter needs to be opened thereafter.

There is a reasonable probability of this strategy being used.

4. Conducting a Referendum

Another option to the Government to delay the inevitable would be to order a referendum and then take time to organize. There will be a serious practical issue in conducting the referendum since identification of the voters will be an issue. The referendum would be plagued with the usual election issues of missing voters names. Hence there has to be an exercise of a revision of electoral rolls before the referendum can take place. Hence the exercise can spread over 4-6 months which gives the Government some breathing time.

Though this is a good option to divert attention and to seek time, the Government may avoid this mode so as to prevent a precedence being created. There would be objections that this would be against the Parliamentary democracy though Mr Nariman has rightly pointed out the constitutional provisions that “People” are supreme in a democracy and “Parliament” comes only later.

5. What if the Jan LokPal Bill is passed?

The other option for the Government is to get the Jan LokPal Bill passed and then try to play around with the formation of the Lokpal Committee.

Once the Bill is passed the current movement will have to take a break and the Government will think of how to corrupt the formation of the Lokpal committee. There can also be an indefinite delay in the formation of the Lokpal committee until such time that the movement merges itself into the next election campaign.

Which of these options will manifest itself in the next few days is a matter of interest to all of us. People of India who have brought the agitation to this level need to ensure that any sinister designs of the Government to defeat this anti corruption movement does not succeed.

I wish Anna and his Core team to carefully chart out their plans to keep the movement on the rails. I remember that during the JP movement it was one statement from JP “Calling the Armed forces to disobey orders and  support the movement” that gave the excuse for Mrs Indira Gandhi to declare emergency. The present set of people would also be looking forward to some slip from the Anna team to pounce on them.

One of the biggest threats the Anna team face is the intrusion of trouble makers into the crowd and  also the security of the leaders. Ms Kiran Bedi should work on creating some security sensitization amongst the volunteers so that they are watchful and prevent any untoward incidents which would be taken advantage of by the Government.

Wishing success for the Anti Corruption Crusade.

Naavi of

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