This morning, news media chose not to highlight the fact that nearly 4,500 supporters chose to brave the 45-degree heat in Delhi and make their way to Jantar Mantar to show their support for the Baba Ramdev–Anna Hazare fast and focus, instead, on the supposed chinks in the Ramdev-India Against Corruption (IAC) partnership.
“Differences take sheen off Team Anna’s fast”, says Hindustan Times. “Kejriwal gets a bit too personal for Baba Ramdev”, says DNA. “Ramdev, Kejriwal share dais, but split over attacking PM”, says The Times of India. “Team Anna, Ramdev split wide open over naming PM, ministers”, says The Indian Express.
Here’s a list of the stories that Google news throws up. Most of them suggest a rift, using words like ‘snub’, ‘split’, ‘cracks’, ‘differences’, and ‘storm out’.
Take a look at a recording above of the incident, immediately after the alleged ‘snub’ of Arvind Kejriwal by Baba Ramdev.
Arvind Kejriwal talks to Baba Ramdev, with Anna Hazare smiling benignly alongside. There is no sign whatsoever of Kejriwal being upset; he, too, is seen smiling. There is no sign that Ramdev is upset; there is no sign that Anna Hazare is upset.
There are clearly differences of opinion on whether politicians should be named. Kejriwal is clearly of the opinion that they should be; Ramdev sees no need for it. Kejriwal acknowledges the difference. “This is a political battle and we will have to name and shame and demand severe action against corrupt people. I will personally speak to Swami Ramdevji. I am sure I will be able to persuade him that naming is important,” Kejriwal said on Twitter.
In the greater scheme of things, these differences in point of view are minor hiccups. Differences exist within political parties, be it the Congress or the BJP, they exist within the UPA’s constituents and the NDA’s — and they exist within the constituents of the anti-corruption movement, too.
Rather than celebrating the ‘differences’ and the ‘split’ and the ‘snub’, the political class should fear the fact that the anti-corruption movement still exists and that it survived a torrid, hot summer day in Delhi. Minor differences will not derail the movement; all the constituents, including Ramdev and Kejriwal, have a common cause — the eradication of corruption.
That common cause stays, and the commitment stays. That should worry the politicians and the media — and that is where they should focus on.
Today, the focus seems to be on an imagined weakness, and an imagined and exaggerated chink — rather than on a real and growing anti-corruption movement.