Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ramleela Ground Fiasco and Central Government Goofup

A second player in Ramleela ground drama was government of India. First government decided to interact with baba. Four central ministers had met baba at the airport. A meeting happened at the Claridges hotel. Then came police action and congress party spokesman calling baba a thug.

Question comes, why did government did what they did? Why did the government send ministers to dissuade baba? In the end why did the government decided to use police to forcefully break the protest. Commonsense suggest ministers that receive heads of states, should not be sent to receive a nobody. It is against all protocols. I think our prime minister being a decent human being wanted to dissuade baba from carrying out his fast. Besides, many of babas ludicrous demands could not have been made even if fast that continued till eternity. Because it involved changing law, dealing with foreign governments. Government was already rattled by public support to Anna movement. They probably sensed RSS and BJP were backing the baba. So they wanted to end further protest at the earliest. Government probably hoped to create a division between Anna Hazare and baba Ramdev. Initially, baba also made some statement to this effect, by claiming prime ministerd need not come under lokpal bill. I think government also calculated baba may not be able to manage an alliance between left and right and fall on his own weight. Sadhvi Rithambara shared the dais with baba Ramdev. Anna camp that included Prashant Bhushan, a ultra left sympathiser. Anna was made to retract praise of Narendra Modi earlier.


Why did government used police force to breakup the fast. Government apparently had an agreement with baba that he will withdraw his fast by end of the day Saturday, 5th Jun, 2011. However, as was revealed later in television, it appeared that baba had no intention of honouring the agreement. Question is did government not anticipate public backlash for unleashing force on fasting men, women, children of different ages. I think, in this drama at Ramleela ground, government had two choices. Both were certain to make government look bad. One included chronic festering sore or long protest fast where both left and right hitting government with demands and questions that government cannot meet. Second option was of acute surgical pain of forcefully breakup the fast.. Government chose the second one. They probably gambled that public memory is short, and two years is a long time in politics. In the coming years, if government does something good, people may forget Ramleela ground.

Time will tell if government was right in its gamble. I think, People perceive the present government has an extremely callous attitude to corruption. If government had acted on numerous scams that has engulfed it, the present situation would not arise. Telecom minister Mr. Raja did not resign on his own. He was forced to resign by relentless opposition attack. Same about Mr. Kalmadi, and now may be another member of same family from southern alliance partner. The space left vacant by our elected representatives have been occupied by Anna, baba et al. Government has persistently tried to thwart the lokpal bill drafting effort. First a doctored CD appeared and tried to sully the images of Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan. Then effort was made to drive a wedge between Anna team. Then government came back with a much diluted bill that did not want to include Prime minister, MPs etc. All these appeared that government was trying to buy time. At this time, it beats me, what is the hurry for Baba to have a fast at this time. I think Baba's timing of fast is awful. Fast of baba will take attention away from main issue and give government oppurtunity to say that civil society is divided, so more time is needed to arrive at a concensus.
Finally, our prime minister may be an honourable man. He is clean. But he knows he is surrounded by people who are sharks. By nature prime minister is not very aggressive. He wants to lead by example. When you are surrounded by people that understands only kick in the rear end, leading by example may not be enough. Prime ministers hands are tied, there is Kalignar in Chennai, Madam in Delhi, Didi in Kolkata, and so on. Cabinet colleagues owed allegiance to not to people of India but to their bosses in the party. In this scenario, it may be difficult for prime minister to operate. But he has chosen this job and now people of India wants him to deliver..
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