The Anna Hazare movement has just grown bigger

Anna’s arrest prior to his fast was expected. In fact, his pre-recorded message to the nation makes it clear that the Gandhian himself anticipated it. The police action has created ripples of reaction across the country. It won’t be surprising if the ripples turn into waves later in the day and Anna’s supporters across the country court arrest in large numbers. He has already termed his movement 'the second freedom struggle' asking people to fill jails. His message is likely to trigger widespread passionate action.

The Supreme Court is expected to step in at some point. Activist Prashant Bhushan has already said that he would move court as soon as it opens. The court, most likely, would find the government’s action unconstitutional and against the law. The government will certainly find it difficult to explain its action on the civil society activists. It will have to release Anna under the court’s order, handing him over a small, yet important victory.

 The Anna Hazare movement has just grown bigger

Anna Hazare’s arrest prior to his fast was expected. PTI

The opposition, of course, would try to make most of the government’s predicament. For the BJP and the Left it is a godsend. Both have already resurrected memories of the 1975 Emergency to whip up passion.

The BJP is likely to move an adjournment motion in Parliament to nail the government. It would, no doubt, be backed by other opposition parties. The government would be up for some very uncomfortable questioning.

For the BJP, the party in waiting to take over power at the Centre, it’s the best opportunity to hit hard at the government. Its own approach to the Lokpal Bill reeks of double standards – it is more in agreement with the government’s position than that of the civil society on the issue. But in the time of high passion not many would take note of its hypocritical position. The mother organisation, RSS, has already jumped in to support Anna. It is hint enough for the party to go the whole hog.

The civil society members, buoyed by the popular upsurge in their favour, would like to make the maximum of the situation. Anna has already set the tone through his address to the nation. Earlier on Monday, he had said that if Gandhian methods did not yield results, people would resort to the methods of Chhatrapati Shivaji. It’s hard to miss the implicit warning.

Civil society activist Kiran Bedi has taken it forward by equating today’s situation with the days of Emergency. "This is exactly what happened during Emergency. Emergency has revisited the country. This detention is unconstitutional and undemocratic," said Bedi while courting arrest. The words of members of Team Anna will resonate loud across the country. As more and more people join the movement the government would find itself hopelessly cornered.

The UPA, more specifically the Congress, is in a bind now. It had worked itself into a situation where it would be damned if it allowed Anna’s fast to happen and damned if it didn’t. Now that it has bitten the bullet, it cannot escape the consequences. It’s not clear what the party think tank had on mind when it launched an orchestrated attack on Anna. It was expected to backfire and cause a lot of collateral damage.

A storm is brewing and the party has to brace to pay heavy costs. The leadership, obviously, is in a muddled state of mind. The senior leaders have lost the plot; it’s up to Rahul Gandhi to step in and make an impression now.

Anna Hazare sent out this video message for his followers just before he was detained.

Updated Date: Aug 16, 2011 11:54:13 IST