Street power: Get used to the Anna version of Parliament

When Parliament moves away from the people, the latter will go after whoever voices their concerns better. It's Anna's version of Lokpal that will prevail.

Anant Rangaswami December 12, 2011 11:16:14 IST
Street power: Get used to the Anna version of Parliament

Whatever politicians say, laws will be made in the streets and public spaces like Jantar Mantar, and there's nothing the political classes can do about this phenomenon.

The i's will be dotted and the t's will be crossed in houses of Parliament, but the essence will come from the streets.

The 'headlines', if you will, will come from clamouring masses, and the 'body copy' will be thrashed out by elected representatives.

And this 'new' model is upsetting the politicians, who see this as an attack on the supremacy of the Parliament.

Street power Get used to the Anna version of Parliament

What the activist has done is to listen to the voters. He’s understood what bothers them. PTI

Think about it: this model is far from new. Politicians who stand for public office are supposed to represent their electorate, pay heed to their concerns and attempt to alleviate their worries.

Except, over a period of time, politicians have stopped listening to the electorate and have demonstrated that they do little to address their concerns.

What Anna Hazare has done is to listen to the voters. He’s understood what bothers them, he’s spoken to others to understand what could be done to address these issues and he’s used his “Gandhian” philosophy to draw attention to himself and the cause of anti-corruption.

Finally, he’s leveraged the media, playing them like puppets on a string, delivering simple-to-understand one-liners that dominate the news.

Anna Hazare has listened to the people as far as corruption is concerned and forced the politicians into submission. Politicians could have dealt with this years and decades ago; concern on corruption is as old as the hills.

And there are many other issues that citizens across the country have been concerned about. In Mumbai, for example, issues might include public transport, commuting, water, encroachments, illegal hawking, traffic problems, access to housing and erratic power.

For farmers, it might be access to loans, regular water and power, support prices and distribution.

For national issues, we’re already dealing with corruption. Other issues could include the need for an efficient judicial system, food security, water and power infrastructure and education.

These are all headlines, headlines written by pained citizens. Politicians at the national, state and district levels could listen to these headlines and ‘own’ them, and, in the process, prove to the voters that they are well represented.

Ignore the headlines, and you will discover Anna Hazare clones who will hijack the causes, reducing you to a bit player who writes the body copy.

What the Anna Hazare movement has underlined is that, in a country like India, finding 10,000 citizens to flock to a public space for a cause which resonates is easy. Once you get 10,000 people rooting for a just cause being championed in a non-violent manner, you can be sure it will get media support.

Once that happens, we’ll discover another law which gets made on the street and formalised by Parliament.

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