By- Nava Thakuria
When Gandhian Anna Hazare ended his hunger strike (after fasting for 12 full days) following Indian parliament’s resolution for a stronger anti-graft law, he himself said it was a half-victory. But nobody denied that millions of common Indians rallied behind him for a Jan Lokpal, and finally the law makers had to bow down to public fury.
Under the leadership of the 74-year-old Anna Hazare the demand for a public ombudsman who would have the authority to investigate and punish corrupt politicians and bureaucrats including that of Prime Minister’s Office, took shape as another freedom movement. The UPA government led by Indian National Congress initially overlooked the public sentiment and submitted a seemingly week anti-graft bill in the parliament. Some of Congress leaders even made ridiculous statements that Anna Hazare himself was a corrupt person and so he does not have the right to speak against corruption. The anti-corruption crusader was also put in Tihar jail for some time, but soon the government faced tough protests, and was compelled to retreat.
Meanwhile, the civil society groups under the banner of India Against Corruption, which drafted a pro-people Lokpal Bill, have poured their support for a powerful anti-corruption law. Among many others, yoga-guru Ramdev, Art of Living preacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar also extended their whole hearted supports to the cause. Under pressure, Prime Minister Dr Singh had to open up his mind emphasizing on dialogue with the team of Anna Hazare to bring an end to the difficult situation for the government.
Dr Singh, while claiming that his government was seriously undertaking the matter of corruption, however, insisted that making a law needs time as the bill has to pass through various necessary steps. The Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi parroted similar version and argued that he too wants to curb corruption. But unless common people’s participation is there, he said, a law alone cannot check the corruption in our society. Later, the head of the state government on August 26 declared that the Assam chief minister office would be brought under the ambit of Lokayukta following the parliament’s final conformity on Lokpal Bill.
While Anna and his team led protest demonstration at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, various groups organized demonstrations in every important city and towns of the country including the alienated Northeast region. Various socio-political organizations of Assam joined the movement and the relay hunger strike by the citizens continued in different places of the state. Members belonging to Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, All Assam Students’ Union, AJYCP with various other groups and political parties joined in rallies and candle lit processions. In fact, the citizens from all walks of life expressed their solidarity for Anna’s movement and responded to the call of ‘India Against Corruption’ for the cause of a
corruption free India. They participated in the relay hunger strike at Lakshidhar Bora Khetra in Dighalipukhuri locality since August 16 till August 28.The protesters chanted patriotic slogans and kept the national flag flying high all the time.
Amusing the people of the region, United Liberation Front of Assam military chief Paresh Barua, National Democratic Front of Bodoland chief Ranjan Daimary and Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers secretary general Nilip Enghi also extended their supports to Anna Hazare for his movement. The militant leaders sent e-mail statements to the media, and commented that the Gandhian had led an important fight against corruption.Anna and his team comprising Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Shanti Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, and Akhil Gogoi, etc., may not hit the target till date, but the uprising brought good news for the patriotic people of Northeast India. The movement has made it clear that we can fight the government even after saluting the National flag.
It became almost a rare occasion to see the tricolour flying in the trouble-torn Northeast. Even the Independence Day and Republic Day witnessed very few flags hoisted in the region for many years as the separatist militants continue imposing diktats on the celebration on both the auspicious Days. In the conflict-ridden Northeast, it became a routine exercise to ignore (or reject) the tricolour whenever one talks against the Union government. Hence no protest demonstrator against New Delhi use to carry the national flag, as it was understood as the symbol of Central government. The historic Assam movement witnessed the worshiping of Gandhi but never adore the national flag. It was not acceptable to the people that carrying the tricolour one can raise voice against New Delhi. In fact, the common people simply forgot that many great souls from the Northeast too sacrificed their lives with the spirit of our national flag. But the movement of Anna Hazare made it clear that the government is not synonymous with the national flag. So protesting against the government does not necessarily mean the opposition (or hatred) to the tricolour. Rather every patriotic Indian should honour the national flag as it resembles our martyrs (of freedom movement) and definitely not the regime in New Delhi.