An open letter to Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal

Published: Wednesday, Oct 03,2012, 00:15 IST
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An open letter, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, British divide, Gouri Salvi, arvind kejriwal political party, lokpal, manish shishodia, funds from US, NGO

It is sad to see one of the most promising partnerships Indian public life has witnessed in a long time falling apart. We are at a historical juncture and it is only apt that we take lessons from what happened in history.

It is a curse for India that great visionaries have often parted ways, either due to personal differences, pressure of aides and what not. Even during the freedom struggle, due to petty differences Patel and Nehru, Gandhi and Rajaji had fallen apart. Differences between Patel and Nehru had grown to such an extent that even after Patel’s death, when Patel’s daughter went to Nehru with a letter from her father he just took it and walked away without so much as a word of condolence to her [i].

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In early years Gandhi had said that Rajaji only could be his possible successor but later pushed him to resign from the presidency of the Congress party and disowned him as his successor in favour of Nehru. Rajaji later became the Home Minister in 1950 after Patel's death, but differences with Nehru had grown to an extent that he quit after 10 months to return to Madras.

Gandhi could have stopped the execution of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev when the Britishers were keen to reach a settlement with Gandhi in the First Round table conference in January 1931, but he simply chose not to and in the end India lost.

While these parting of ways often get lost in the pages of history, one only wonders what if they hadn't - would we have created a greater nation. Often great visionaries so fall in love with their visions that they sacrifice invaluable partnerships that could have given India so much more. For example, Rajaji took a stand against the license raj way back in the 1950s and said that it would become a breeding ground for stagnation and corruption. He supported an open economy and talked of measures to be taken to make private industry thrive.  In 1971 when his party, the Swatantrata party lost elections, he said that his party may have lost but their policies are bound to become the policies of the government, if not now some years hence - something which we all witnessed in the 1991 reforms. India would have been far ahead had we heeded to Rajaji earlier.

Unfortunately, even today India is a land where crooks come together and honourable people fall apart. Reminds one of the British divide and rule policy, they were so successful in implementing it, that even after 65 years of their departure we still succumb to it.

Annaji, I request you to consider the fact that movements don't live long - systems do. The biggest systemic change you are in a position to be bringing about today is to create a platform where good Indians embrace politics - to create an atmosphere where politics is not a bad word. It is perfectly justified if you personally don't want to contest elections, but if the country overwhelmingly wants you to provide an alternative - you owe it to the country to give a lending hand to your aides who are attempting to do that.

I remember talking to a bus driver a few months ago when he said – Anna should contest elections and make things change instead of sitting on the side lines as a commentator. You yourself pledge allegiance to Gandhian ideals – and one of his most powerful lines remains ‘Be the Change you want to see’.

So long as we work towards a great cause there will be differences in opinion – but the journey is long and all these differences become petty in the light of the big picture we are trying to change. Political alternative was earlier an option, but given the indifference by the government it becomes more an inevitable consequence. While you may choose your level of involvement in it, but distancing yourself from it would be a mistake similar to the many taken in Indian history. Let’s preserve the big picture. Let us all lend support to all good initiatives. There is really nothing to gain by not supporting your team’s political initiative.

At best they come in control of a few ministries come 2014
and at worst they lose elections.

By not supporting them, India at best will stand witness to a few more protests, some jail bharos, some hunger strikes – but when we fast forward 5 years, people would hardly remember them. People would however remember the one seat you win that makes hundreds of good Indians come into active politics with the desire to make India the greatest nation in the world in heart. Even if winning that one seat takes us to 2019, in 2014 you would have laid foundations to something remarkable which will make India win.

[i] As documented in ‘I too had a dream’ – By Gouri Salvi

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