After a gap of seven years, Anna Hazare, the Hunger-strike Man of India, on Friday, launched an indefinite hunger strike against the Centre for setting up of Lokpal, at Ramlila Maidan. The Gandhian had sat on a similar hunger strike in 2011 to demand the then UPA government for setting up a Lokpal to investigate corruption cases.
Although Hazare is protesting again for setting up of Lokal Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states and a host of other issues, there is not much public connect like the one which one witnessed during the UPA days. Observers say that unlike the UPA-II, which was sunk in neck-deep corruption, there has not been any major corruption issue that will catch the imagination of the public.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be the most popular politician in India now. Despite many attempts, the opposition has not been able to make a convincing allegation of corruption against Modi. Compare this with UPA time: Sonia Gandhi’s family was alleged to have been involved in corruption cases.
Another reason why Hazare’s protest is likely to remain lackluster is lack of a charismatic and efficient organizer. Last time, Anna had with him personalities like Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi, etc. People like Ramdev have huge following.
Once bitten twice shy: Kejriwal who emerged from Anna’s anti-corruption campaign faces a credibility crisis and therefore people are reluctant to associate with such movements.
Last time, RSS and some other cadre-based organisations have helped the anti-corruption movement gain momentum. Although there are certain Leftist grassroots organizations supporting Anna’s current campaign, it would be very difficult for them to sustain the momentum for long.
The government might not take an overtly hostile attitude towards the campaign. However, it will be in the interests of the government to defuse the situation, as the issues raised by Anna are potent. The government despite its best efforts has not been able to dispel the image that it was not favouring industrialists.