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Can Anna Do A JP?

About an year ago, when Anna Hazare first challenged the political heavy-weights and his fast at Jantar Mantar was swiftly drawing millions into the fight for Janlokpal, many thinkers drew parallels between Anna Hazare and Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan. They found much more than mere resemblance, and were expecting a great political upheaval in future. However, now, an year later, when the strategies of Anna are clear and are clearly unpolitical, having a major diversion from the aims of his erstwhile team-member Arvind Kejriwal. Many of those thinkers might find their words hard to stand by.

Anna might be right in not participating in political activism, but in a time when political establishment is so indifferent to the voice of masses, it is hard to find any other way to bring a change in the society. While Anna strives to change the political setup without joining active politics,Jayaprakash Narayan,popularly known as JP, demonstrated how one can accomplish the objective of political edification even after becoming a part of political ecosystem. JP was a great leader of 'lokniti' (polity of the people) rather than 'rajniti' (polity of the state).Although he never held any office, he never disappointed the people by refusing to take the struggle to any level. His pivotal role in surrender of Madho Singh and other bandits of the Chambal valley clearly outlines the credibility that JP had and faith and hope that he could extend to the deadliest criminals. It really calls for true leader like JP to bring the criminals to book, to ensure justice to them without compromising with the law of land. Anna's movement truely lacks such holistic and intensive approach.

It is said-"When injustice reaches its climax, a leader is born". So if we wish to compare Anna and JP, we must first compare the situation back in JP era with present scenario . Back in 1975, Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha issued the decree of forbidding the Prime Minister to contest elections. This was followed by an emergency imposed by state, mocking the authority of judiciary.Even today, freedom to judiciary appears to have been marred as big scams and defalcations are coming up with the CAG reports. So, there appears to be a great similarity with the Indira Gandhi's regime of 1970s. Henceforth, the causes of JP and Anna are similar. What differentiates the two movement, is our inability at present to substantially challenge the government.

Literature has a typical behavior that it always first follows and then leads the society and the political
scene, whenever a social change is summoned. I scarcely find if there stands anyone today who can dare to ask the Prime Minister for his incapability, as Baba Nagarjun had asked 'induji induji kya hua apko?' (Indiraji, what has happened to you?). The point that I want to drive home is that JP's movement was not only social and political but took every sphere of the society into its ambit; be it literature,science or cinema.

With the present government neck deep in corruption and complete failure of state machinary to address key issues, it is very clear that something drastic needs to be done. The time is rife for complete overhaul and change is inevitable. The mass mobilization that Anna movement had created would have been the best platform to kick start this change. But one senses a lack of responsibility in taking this movement to logical conclusion. So a sense of responsibility and determination to leap forward has to be evoked. This sense is the only factor that marks the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

In Bhagwadgita (5:02), Lord Krishna too provokes the sense of duty and responsibility as he says,
'karmasanyasat karmayogo vishishyate' , i.e., to take the responsibility is more divine than
renunciation.

One might wonder for how do we expect Anna alone to change the entire setup. Ofcourse neither Anna has nor JP had a magic wand which for once could address all the concerns. But history provides innumerable instances, when a single leader has made all the difference. I once got a chance to visit the divine site of Mahabodhi Temple. The stone carvings and demarcations there tells us the great precision that Buddhist religious literatures have and the great deal of delicacy with which they have been preserved. The religion is followed all over the world, and the name of Bhagwan Buddha has an even greater reputation. At the time of Ashok, the great, I doubt whether Buddhism was more popular than Jainism. His grandfather, Sandrokyptos or Chandragupta Maurya, had converted to Jainism. Certainly, before Ashok, they must have enjoyed, almost equal popularity. However, it is another demographic fact that the followers of Buddhism are far greater in numbers and are more widespread than those of Jainism. In my opinion, the biggest margin between these two faiths was Ashok. Ashok was perhaps the most influential emperor in the Indian history. This is not because of slaying his ninety-nine brothers or wars that he faught, but because of his building the stupas and erecting the religious edicts. This is the perspective which makes him stand out. Otherwise, there have been other rulers in the history who won more battles and had such vast empire. Hence, the real point is, benevolently utilising the authority; and there was a similar opportunity before Anna but he lost it.

Today, when the nation was expecting a change, its hope of a reformer has been blurred. When
there was an ample chance of revolution, it was revealed that all that happenned was for a lost cause. It has falsified the hope that had inflamed inside a common man. Certainly, it is a deviation from the oath of Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution) of JP. We, as individuals, find it hard to begin a revolutionary change and find us helpless. If charity begins at home, why not the revolution? If the tale of the literally himalayan task of Dashrath Manjhi can not inspire us, we deserve no good. To act in the benefit of the state and populace is the responsibility of every individual.

So switching back to question we started with: Can Anna Do A JP? Well sure Anna can, he has the ability but apparently lacks the vision. We need to understand that legislative demands can't be isolated from social and political causes. All these are interrelated and hence a holistic approach to Anna movement is the need of the hour.

-Rishav Verma
Vellore Institute of Technology

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