The Nation woke up the news that Anna Hazare, the man leading the crusade against corruption nationally, was arrested by the police without mentioning any reason. This curbing of the constitutional right to protest peacefully reminded one of the emergency days that we as children had got exposed to. While one may not agree that the situation is the same or that the actions of the Government have reached the same proportions, one did feel bad that one’s right was being trampled by a State unwilling to provide the space for dissent and disagreement. No one can deny the supremacy of the Parliament in our system of democracy. This necessarily means that debates and discussions should be the prime weapons that one can use. But then, these are also not normal times. Our Parliamentarians are neither true representatives of the people nor do they reflect the people’s opinions and views. They are driven by their own petty politics that is not necessarily in the interest of the Nation or the people they represent. This is one of the reasons why most of us have resorted to peaceful and non-violent protests like fasts to make our voices heard.
We at Mysore too decided to take our campaign against corruption forward. We gave a call for all like-minded individuals and progressive Institutions to lay aside any individual labels and come together for this fight against corruption and the fight for a strong Lokpal bill. The turnout despite the heavy downpour was surprising. Hundreds of people, young and old, students and retirees joined together to express their concern. Together they decided to take the campaign forward under the banner of Mysore Against Corruption. People said that no colors, isms or ideologies except that of fighting corruption would be allowed in this platform. This group also decided to take the ‘Satyagraha’ further and continue the struggle under Gandhi’s statue at Gandhi Square near the Town Hall at Mysore. They would also hold many other micro-events in the suburbs of the city and get the students involved. The group’s resolve was tested when one major political party tried to gate crash and were politely turned away.
Earlier, we had invited the local Member of Parliament Mr. Vishwanath to come and share his stand on the Lokpal bill and the arrest of Anna Hazare. We wanted him to hear us and carry our thoughts and emotions on these issues to his colleagues and party at the Parliament. Though we never expected him to turn up, he did come and agree that the arrest of Anna was not an appropriate response of his Government. He shared his view that each person had his own way of expressing dissent and as long as it was within the purview of law, the State could not and should not suppress it. He also agreed to be a representative of the people and take our views to Parliament on the need for a strong Lokpal Bill. Only time can tell whether he will stay a mere politician or rise above petty party politics and become our representative in Parliament.
The day ended with enthusiastic students, mostly from the engineering colleges, coming together and holding a candle light vigil. I was indeed fortunate to walk with them and share their energy and desire for a corruption-free India. We also take this opportunity to invite the people of the district to join us in this struggle and help us take the movement to its logical conclusion.
PS: Related article in ‘Bangalore Mirror’: Sick and tired of paying bribes, American joins stir