Bangalore is buzzing with it. Friends, colleagues at work, close Praja friends, everyone wants to either discuss it, or go visit Freedom Park. Watched a lot of TV, and read almost all major newspaper editorials last week. Disappointed with media, and a bit with intelligentsia as well for either trying to be artificially balanced, or for needlessly complicated and pointlessly intelligent arguments. Here is an attempt at an FAQ for the critics and supporters alike. Note: I am not associated with Team Anna. All attempts to speak on their behalf are purely personal, and based on what we have seen and heard through media recently.
1. Don't we have enough laws already to deal with this. How will a new one help?
May not help, but it will certainly NOT hurt. And who is saying that there should be no efforts made to make existing laws work? Who and What is stopping the government from moving forward on all related laws or proposals like police reforms, judicial reforms etc?
2. Isn't this a blackmail? and will set a bad precedent.
If it is then so be it. But it is not. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary methods. Not everyone can resort to such 'blackmail' for every issue. It is DAMN hard to get even 4 citizens of Bangalore to stand up with single voice on any single issue. When 40000 are doing it for a cause, it is an extraordinary situation.
3. Won't it set a bad precedent?
Why use the word bad? It would set a good precedent. No violence. Clear demands - make a Lokpal bill like this. And with some good homework - there is a clear 6-page document. And last, there is clean and popular support - this is not the Rs 250 a day crowd we see on other rallies and occasions.
4. But isn't Team Anna a closed unit, not open for input from others?
The draft they have put up was up on the Internet, and got 3000+ comments. Those who are complaining of not being heard haven't made any serious parallel efforts to create their drafts and push for it. There is no perfect way of carrying lakhs along on a written piece of document. This is close enough for me, solely because everyone knows what is beiung fought here.
5. Alright, but aren't they fixated with Jan Lokpal Bill like its the only thing under the sun?
Well not. Team Anna has talked of Electoral Reforms, Judicial reforms, Right to Service etc on many occasions. Just that some folks in the media want to portray them as a bunch of obdurate and arrogant people.
6. Allegation of funds misuse against Anna himself?
These sort of allegations should wake you up from your intelligentsia slumber (if you talk and think the same way as most media editorials - this is not the right way, why resort to blackmail etc etc). 2 lakh rupees "allegedly' used for his birthday, is that the best Congress I has got? Have the guts to publish your party funds first, have the guts to be democratic yourself first (as election commission guidelines say), prove that all personal expenses (Cricket match tickets, medical trip holidays etc etc) of your party bosses were paid from their personal accounts, and not government or party accounts. There is ABSOLUTELY no comparison between Team Anna and Congress-I as far as counts of skeletons in their closets is concerned.
7. But they say Anna misused those 2 Lakhs, isn't that bad?
I would still join him for a fast than join anyone else for a feast. I am impressed that the Rs 2 lakh thing was the worst the sarkaari witch hunt could dig out. Malice attempts of this sort should tell you that the Congress bosses have lots of things to hide from upcoming Lokpal.
8. But what about calling PM names, those 'not so nice' personal attack statements about other ministers?
These guys aren't used to leading such large crowds, they are overwhelmed. Most have never faced so many cameras and such large crowds before. Its natural to get emotional and get carried away at times. Our media excels in focusing on extraordinary statements and soundbytes these folks make. These are NOT your seasoned POLITICIANS, don't always expect them to say the politically right things.
9. Alright now, do you really think all those people joining the Anna movement have read or understood Jan Lokpal bill, and how it is 'better'?
May be they have not. But people understand that Anna has a strong bill to tackle corruption at top levels, where things seem to have been going on unchecked for long. That is enough. Everyone joining in doesn't have to take a reading comprehension test on the two draft bills. As long as they are not being forced to join in, as long as they are not being made to join in on false promises (this bill will get you jobs, this bill will help you get your khata), why would you have a problem?
10. So 2-5 lakh people joining a movement in a 1.2 billion strong country makes it a people's movement is it?
2-5 lakhs is Karan Thapar's number (hope you saw him play the Devil instead of Devil's advocate for a change on TV earlier today). 1.2 crore missed calls is perhaps the more real number. Without the money to bring in the Rs 250 a day people to these rallies, 5 lakh in person and 1.2 crore in spirit is no mean achievement. 70 crore were eligible to vote in in last LS elections, turnout was 59%. So 42 crore voted. Apppx 25% of votes were won by Cong-I. That gives you ~ 11 crores. 1.2 Crore is 10% of that number, sizable enough to be termed popular.
11. So if they have so much support, why don't they join politics themselves?
How do you know that they wont. They and perhaps some of you and me also probably will, but I am guessing only after we remove corruption that feeds all election campaigns. Only after some electoral reforms that will make fighting elections a level playing field. It right now is not.
12. Why not accept the best version from Parliament, and then press for amendments, basically go for a staged approach?
Why not finish the whole thing off through one big movement than do this again and again every 6 months? 2-3 months of struggle and stalemate, and we would all get a big first step completed. For an issue as monstrous as this, speed is the need. Stages will take ages.
13. Don't you think the UPA government is being targeted, a bit unfair?
It just so happens that they are in power. There is no directly Congress-I focused agenda in the campaign here. As far as UPA is concerned, you can say that this is the most corrupt government ever, or you could say that this is the first government that has put its ministers behind the bars. Make the call with your vote, Team Anna is not taking that choice away from you.
14. What's the way out for UPA government now?
They only know why their hands are tied. But who is stopping them from looking ahead and beyond Jan Lokpal? Just start on Electoral Reforms, put up an example for other parties by installing democracy inside Congress-I itself, take up Police Reforms, Judicial reforms, freedom for CBI, deep audit of PDS or NREGS like social programs to understand the pilferage etc etc etc. The list of things they can do to show they too are serious, in fact more serious and more knowledgeable than Team Anna is pretty long. Just start on it and see the crowds turn around. One can always steal the march.
15. That is fine, but the current stalemate?
Perhaps a sincere promise that you would put up a stronger bill up in the parliament? Or let multiple versions be debated? Or, explain why you are opposed to certain provisions in the Team Anna version? Will have to leave this FAQ item unanswered.