The Megalomania called Team Anna (Amit Sengupta)

In Commentary on December 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

From: Hard News, 24 December 2011

The Megalomania called Team Anna

by Amit Sengupta

It’s time to dump Anna and his Sancho Panzas into the garbage can of history

The irony is that if the Lokpal bill drafted by Team Anna is accepted in toto, even then they will find some stupid detail to oppose it lock, stock and barrel. They will find some other technical reason to flex their muscles. They have become addicted to this aggressive posturing in front of television cameras which love them. The corporate driven TV channels love them because this Lokpal Bill is stunningly status quoist. It promises change but this change is a farce; it is a recipe for yet another huge monster of a bureaucracy and police system which will be equally oppressive. It does not touch the poorest of the poor, the landless, homeless, exiled, marginalised people of this country. It has nothing to do with the countless struggles against displacement at the margins for basic survival against big corporates backed by the mighty Indian State. Besides, it blocks all radical movements for authentic social and political change, especially against the fat cats of the new economy.

Hence, everyone is happy: the upwardly mobile urban classes (beneficiaries of neo-liberalism – untouched by corruption?), the upwardly mobile media backed by the corporates, the upwardly mobile corporates, backed by the politicos, and of course, the upwardly mobile Team Anna, backed by miscellaneous and dubious big funders and sundry NGOs with deep pockets. You can see this fantastic, parasitic symbiosis every moment of this ghastly public spectacle. The daily farce which follows the ritualistic nightmare.

When small timers with shallow visions and transparent political opportunism, turn megalomaniacs, and the TV channels love it, the entire country has to suffer their bouts of hysterical, low brow, morbid melodrama. This is because, as many observers believe, beyond the belligerent, dogmatic and arrogant posturing, the one-dimensional agenda is fascist and negative, driven by sinister political forces working on a Rightwing Hindutva putsch; propelled by corporate, World Bank and Ford Foundation lobbies to delegitimise radical struggles and legitimise the NGOisation of Indian politics in the name of good governance.

Consider the fact that for this motley bunch of aggressive and self righteous publicity seekers, who are obsessively on television doing ritualistic press conferences (cut the TV off, and their movement is over and gone!), there is no big picture agenda stalking the fragmented, in-egalitarian, unhappy Indian landscape other than the Lokpal. The Lokpal itself is definitely draconian, a Stalinist piece of totalitarian super structure, with yet another manufactured Frankenstein’s monster of a gigantic Kafkaesque bureaucracy, reflecting no progressive social transformation of Indian society, administration, or politics. Besides, this obsession with corruption has a skewed schizophrenic compulsive disorder. As if, it is a neutral category, untouched by all the inherited contradictions of contemporary society, outside the angst and anger of the invisible Indian terrain.

Not even the bitter cold which hits the poor the most touches these Lokpal loyalists. Not the cold wave deaths of the poor, undernourished and homeless. Not even the death of so many people in the AMRI hospital hell fire, could touch their obsessed souls – not a word of condolence seems to have been uttered in that grand Jantar Mantar show soon after. Tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide, millions of children are malnourished and suffering, 78 per cent people of India live on Rs 28 a day, the public distribution system is in shambles while food grain and potatoes rot on the streets, even while thousands of homeless survive and die on the streets of frozen Delhi – but nothing touches the chords of compassion or feeling of these high moral ground Lokpal lovers.

CPI leader Abhay Sahoo is once again in jail for almost a month – last time he was in jail for two years – but not a whimper of protest can be heard from the Hazare camp. They just don’t care. It’s not in their mental horizons. The anti-Posco agitators have been bulldozed by private militias with guns and bombs, emaciated children and women have spread themselves on the ground against the siege by paramilitary forces, big industrial and multinational lobbies have manipulated the Orissa government to buy off huge tracts of beautiful, fertile, forest land with water bodies and streams, destroying habitat and homes, but Team Anna is least bothered. All they want is Lokpal.

Relentless struggles and fasts by thousands first at Jaitapur and then at Koodankulam against nuclear reactors makes no sense to them, they care two hoots. Because, if they sit on even a one day 10 to 5 farce of a fast, 200 cameras are chasing them 24×7. Nor do they care two hoots for the starvation deaths, the jobless on the streets, the struggles against bauxite mining in Kashipur and Niyamgiri (with Vedanta, still looking for this treasure island), or the struggles of thousands of forest workers and forest people for their indigenous rights.

Dark irony, Team Anna loyalist Medha Patkar was refused permission in Jantar Mantar one day before Team Anna hosted the grand TV public spectacle. She and others were wanting to protest against the AFSPA in solidarity with Irom Sharmila, after one decade plus of indefinite fast – unlike the short and sweet (like glucose? Or, is it electrol?) Anna Hazare fasts, his healthy, prosperous paunch not growing any lesser in inches. Medha should know the irony. She had overnight become the blind follower of Hazare, lured by the crowds and TV cameras, proud to be called part of Team Anna, dumping the great legacy of the 25 year-old struggle and satyagraha of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. She should know. Not one word in solidarity was uttered in Jantar Mantar either for her or Irom Sharmila. Not one word of protest. Team Anna eats, sleeps, threatens only Lokpal.

Next week, at least six thousand tribals and forest people from all over remote parts of India marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar in Delhi. They protested on the streets. They held a day long discourse at Mavlankar Hall in Delhi discussing the minutest details of local issues and the Forest Rights Act, and how it is not being implemented, and how their voices are not recognised by the establishment. Not one word was reported in any of the media channels. The papers largely ignored them. The media reports only Lokpal and Team Anna’s rhetoric. This is journalism par excellence.

The fact is, obsessed with this status quoist, Kafkaesque Lokpal movement of Team Anna, the media has yet again completely and continuously obliterated all the marginalised struggles and contradictions of grassroots India, often led by the poorest of the poor, or tribals in remote forests. For instance, the torture and brutalisation of Soni Sori by the Chhattisgarh police has been totally ignored by the media.

The Hazare camp has never cared one bit for mass human rights violations, anyway, as in the Gujarat genocide, or the fake encounters by Narendra Modi’s notorious, communalised police. They have not been ever, or now, part of the difficult secular struggle against the fascists who led the Gujarat genocide. You will not hear them say one word against the mass murders of 2002; it is outside their consciousness. It does not touch them.

Great sacrifices all over India, hard, protracted grassroots struggles, police repression, atrocities by goons of corporates, long campaigns, repeated fasts, arrests, prison terms – nothing touches this media empire and this big funded NGOs led by Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, with the able help of the super rich family kingdom of lawyers with huge assets and properties. Indeed, that is why, Kejriwal and Bedi have no qualms in taking support of millionaire film stars and businessmen (are they all clean?). They find nothing wrong in accepting funds from the likes of Vedanta, blacklisted in several countries, as a notorious mining mafia. So what’s wrong in taking money from sundry corporates, Ford Foundation, rich businessmen, film stars — even if they have a sinister agenda? For a corporate driven media, run by the logic of profit and big capital, this is a made for each other instant therapy. That is why they are so compulsively obsessed with each other.

Besides, the last time, the RSS came out in solid support of the Lokpal movement, in thousands. They were all over Ramlila Ground and other points across the country, surely, marching along with all those who were disgusted with the corrupt and disgusted regime of UPA II. ABVP, the Sangh Parivar’s students’ group was actively involved. The RSS and VHP top leadership testified to this ‘invisible’ politics – the point was to destablise the Congress-led government at any cost. Hardnewsreported with evidence from ground zero on a sustained basis on the prominent RSS role in the movement. This was proved in the days which followed also.

Predictably, as we can see now, and as was witnessed then, there was not one slogan shouted against Narendra Modi, or the corrupt BJP symbols of Yeddyurappa, the Bellary mining mafia, or Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. In fact, the show began with established RSS slogans and songs at Jantar Mantar.

The partisan politics in Hissar, whereby Team Anna had no qualms in backing other corrupt and notorious candidates just to defeat the Congress, is going to be reproduced across the country. This is a clear indication that Anna Hazare is unilaterally a closet RSS and Hindutva protagonist, by hook or crook. His limited and shallow world-view, his sinister body language, his aggressive posturing and low level, street level language, his muscle flexing, his constant threats, his myopic vision and lack of education and refinement, everything suggests a ready made product from the fascist school of thought. Hang the corrupt in a public square, he will say. Flog the drunkards, he will say. Picket outside Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s house, he will say. His entire world has become a world of threats. With the media lapping it up. They love this fascist. More morbid the better.

His every gesture reflects a complete negation of Gandhian values or ethics. His love for the poor is a farce. He is a feudal status quoist with unfulfilled militaristic instincts. He is a small timer fascist who has become a TV icon in a realm of a totally mediocre and partisan media looking for quick fix solutions, thoroughly compromised in terms of absence of journalistic ethics or values. Indeed, he is nothing but a street smart politician, with crude native cunning, working at the behest of sinister forces, covertly and overtly, without a tangible ideology, a sense of history, a knowledge system or political vision.

Gandhi would have laughed at him. Indeed, instead of glorifying him, he should be dumped into the garbage can of history. Along with the entire reactionary, publicity seeking Megalomania called Team Anna.

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