Ministers team vs. Team Anna!
Cabinet divided, Heavyweights vs. Lightweights!
Media exposure to Team Anna’s fist fight might scare the government even now!

The Lokpal bill is now introduced in Parliament. How the political parties rally round Anna Hazare or go over to give the government what it wants is a thing to be watched with interest in the days to come.

But one thing is certain. Anna Hazare has called the govt. bill as a “cruel joke” and has threatened to go on fast from August 16th!

The government didn’t make its case and its anti-corruption cause any better. In fact, the government has shown itself in poor light.

The first fight of Anna sent cold showers in the corridors of the government. Suddenly, the non-speaking top government started to talk, in fact, they started to blabber! The Prime Minister didn’t advance his case by talking in two minds. First he wanted the PM office to be included and second time he also dithered.

The 7 bright stars of the Cabinet, from the voluble Kapil Sibal to no less voluble P.Chidambaram to other articulate and inarticulate voices, Mssrs. Moily, Salman Kurshid to others like Info Minister and others, it seems, were constituted as the media team, in fact it was one more empowered group of ministers used to meet every afternoon after their morning chores are over on the fifth floor hall of the Sastri Bhavan and used to chalk out their media strategy.

How to manage the media? The trouble is that the media, more so the electronic channels are more and more blood-thirsty and they go for the new and innovative and creative encounters and interviews with all and the sundry.

The TV channels and the print media tasted power, from the day when they found even their own fraternity, Mssrs.Veer Sanghvi  and Bharkha Datta fell prey to the charms of power wielding and Neera Radia emerged as the new icon of what is dark and light in the Indian political establishment. Once the Radia tapes burst out into the public domain everyone who is anyone in the political establishment ran for cover!

Such is the power of media that soon after the whole of the Delhi media scene changed.

Every day there was a scoop, breaking news!

So, from 2G to CWG to every other big corporate name was in the dust and there was no more any holy cows left in the capital. Everyone was fair game. Even now the voices from the corporate honchos lodged in Tihar jail are coming louder to catch the rest of their peers. No big name is spared in this muddying game.

So, we see for the first time in Independent India a Cabinet Minister is lodged in jail for six months. No bail, no mercy and no public expression of any disquiet.MP or Minister you have to languish in the Tihar’s dark corners, come what may. Even the mighty Suresh Kalmadi who brought glory (let us not be silly, be generous) to India by staging the Commonwealth Games. See what others are doing in Sri Lanka to other Commonwealth countries that are competing and vying for a slot in the glory of conducting such international level competitive games!

So, Kalmadi, inside or outside the jail, is a real hero and that is how history will write about him. Not the ministers who quietly went out or dropped or others who are all lying low on the forbidden topic. The topic of India successfully staging the international level games!

Now, the media can work either ways. It can lift you to heavens or it can dump you to the dustbin!

Now, with Anna Hazare threatening for  a second fast unto death, with the calling the present Lokpal bill as toothless and a betrayal and the Team Anna is working hard to mobilise the youth and the students and the middle class over the weak bill, it is very likely to generate enough support across the country.

Now, the ministers as media managers have to be cautious in the over-kill.
The Delhi police have denied permission to stage a dharna at Jantar Mantar. The reason the police cites is that other protest groups also want to use the site and the police can’t give the site for one party for such a long time.

Anna is proving cleverer this time. He wrote once again asking or giving different sites. The team Anna also approached the court for permission. It is the democratic right of the people to stage peaceful protests where they want. It is the task of the police to provide adequate security.

The strategy of the government managers is to deny Anna the media exposure as he has now accustomed to get as he proved it in the first round.

The basic reason for the weakness of the government is that it has not thought about a clear policy on tackling corruption. While there is the greatly successful tenure of the Karnataka Lok Ayukta (Justice Shantosh Hegde who has just now laid down the office after a very successful and inspiring term of five years) and the new LokAyukta is also being appointed there, there is every reason for the Indian people to expect that the Central government would draw the right lesson and concede the Jan Lokpal draft to be the model.

What is the need for including the offices of the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal?

There are so many reasons.

Just, apart from any basic moral and legal and high constitutional principles of justice and abolition of corruption, the very events that are now driving the public to agitate for a powerful and strong Lokpal bill is that for the past 42 years such attempts have failed for one reason or other.

Also, the present attempt started from Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council as well as from the NGO leader Anna Hazare.

The Anna draft caught the attention of the public imagination for the simple reason that here was a man who had no axe to grind.

And the world over the Ombudsman covers all high officials including the Prime Minister and the Chief Executives. It is so in the Scandinavian countries and elsewhere where that institution exists.

So, it is only natural to expect that India falls into that pattern.
But here we have a highly divided government, there is no strong public opinion articulated by any credible public Authority or public intellectuals or even by other NGOs, except the Anna Team.

So, it seems to be a simple clash of egos. The credit should go to UPA or Sonia Gandhi or to an obscure public and lowly figure like Anna Hazare.
Luckily for the Anna team, it has got some of the best brains and highly devoted and highly endowed intellectuals and legal brains. No one can point their fingers at the Team Members.

The youth and the middle class of the country are also now in a mood to give the Team Anna to give the benefit of doubt.

The Cabinet, it seems, is also divided. The heavyweights, if they are, are all in favour of including the PM and judiciary, men like A.K.Antony and others. The rather lightweights, men like G.K.Vasan are all toeing the line of the 10, Janpath.

In this rather weak mindset, this government might lose out. It seems that way.

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