Anti-Anna voices grow louder
Zia Haq, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 22, 2011
Voices against Anna Hazare, so far inaudible in the course of his
high-decibel campaign, are getting louder. A section of civil society
activists, Dalit leaders and some legal experts are gearing up to
counter the Hazare wave. Their gripe: Hazare's movement is teetering
on the edge of
Udit Raj, a Dalit heavyweight and head of the All-India Confederation
of SC/ST Organisations, will storm India Gate on August 24 with
followers to launch his 'Save the Constitution' movement. It is aimed
at opposing Hazare.
Driven largely by urban folks, the 'Anna wave' has laid itself bare to
charges of being an upper-caste mobilisation, alienating Dalits and
Muslims. The right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's open support has
only reinforced that notion.
On Monday, human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi kicked off a protest
in Mumbai. She called Hazare's movement "violent" and is set to travel
to several states to garner support. "For anybody to say 'accept Jan
Lokpal bill in 18 days flat' is a violent statement. Violence needn't
be physical alone," Hashmi told HT.
Those who supported Hashmi's views in Mumbai included Ram Puniyani,
who years ago quit a teaching job at the Indian Institute of
Technology, Mumbai, to fight rightwing organisations.
"Bills and law-making are not two-minute noodles," Hashmi added.
Hazare's campaign has also riled Dalit leaders because it is being
seen militating against the Constitution, crafted by India's most
well-known Dalit, BR Ambedkar.
"No doubt corruption is rampant. But the fight against it should not
undermine the Constitution made by Dr Ambedkar. Why is there not a
single representation from Dalits, or backwards or minorities in Team
Anna?" Raj, also the chief of Justice Party, asks.
Veteran Dalit leaders such as Anand Teltumbde accuse Hazare of
demanding creation of an unaccountable post of ombudsman with sweeping
powers, to be chosen by a few worthies.
"Hazare is indulging in demagogic, blackmailing tactics," Teltumbde said.
"The ultimate aim of man," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, "is to play
God. Anna is succumbing to that temptation." Bhatt is set to join
Hashmi to publicise the "hazards" of what he calls is an "undemocratic
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