Anna Hazare: Is He All There?

It is difficult not to wonder if this man is all there when he says things like this (link: Anna calls for another ‘jail bharo’ agitation):
Giving a clean chit to Manmohan Singh for the logjam on the Lokpal Bill, he said the Prime Minister is good, but those holding his remote control are corrupt. “It appears, people are creating impediments in clearing the Lokpal Bill for the convenience of some future prime ministers,” the Gandhian said.
PS:  Why on earth does everyone insist on using "Gandhian"  when referring to him?  He may be living a simple life, but that doesn't make him Gandhian.  I'm not the only one thinking this for sure.  For a detailed take down see this: Spare Us the Gandhian Halo
On a Headlines Today programme, the channel head, an enthusiastic Rahul Kanwal, is talking to Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal (a former IRS officer who is now a prominent civil society activist). As he begins discussing ‘Ab iske aage kya’ (What now after this?), he turns to Anna Hazare, and asks in Hindi, “You say that those who are corrupt should be hanged, is that not against Gandhian principles?” Anna answers, again in Hindi, “That is why I have said that, today, in many things, along with Gandhi we have to look towards Shivaji. [Unclear] Patel committed a mistake, and Shivaji had the man’s hands cut off. This policy of Chhatrapati, in many ways, we have to think about. Hundred per cent non-violence is not possible. Sometimes, even this has to be done, and that is why I have been saying that these people should be hanged…” Kiran Bedi interjects, “Anna is not taking away due process… he is going by the due process, the point is [that] economic offences today in our country are bailable, [are punished] by fines, minimum imprisonment; [there’s] no recovery of property, it is a joke.”
This is a perfect example of how the Anna Hazare movement has been operating for a while. There is little confusion about what Anna Hazare means: when he says “hang them”, he means “hang them”; when he says “cut their hands off”, he means “cut their hands off”. Kiran Bedi did interject to put a palatable spin on these words, but what she said was clearly not what Anna meant. The accompanying profile in this issue clearly shows these words are in keeping with his past. As a result of Anna’s reformist zeal, the people of his native village Ralegan Siddhi have witnessed the public flogging of those who dare to drink, a ban on all intoxicants, and restrictions on cable TV. It does not take much to see how closely this resembles the ideals of the Taliban, especially if you factor in the idea of a few hands being chopped off. Which is why it is no surprise that the sympathy he has long displayed for the Hindu Right has culminated in his endorsement of Narendra Modi.
Even his language is filled with violence.  It is difficult to disagree with the author's conclusion: 
Hazare’s pretence to Gandhian values is a large part of his appeal. But Gandhi’s opposition to communal divides and violence are central to any Gandhian position. Hazare is no Gandhian, and if you forget appearances and concentrate on substance, adding enforced vasectomy to the list of requirements necessary for residence in his native village, Sanjay Gandhi is the only Gandhi who comes to mind in this context. The varied set of people who have come under his banner should have known this, but people have invested little or no time in studying Hazare’s past. So many are so caught up in the illusion of change, that they have been willing to forgo the truth about the man.


  1. Why do I care what his past are anyway? Or for that matter why do the author (that you refer) cares what Anna Hazares past is? Unless that is harmful to the author and me.

    This is nothing but FUD propaganda. The point is, all Anna Hazare is asking for LokPal! You can have a year long debate whether Lokpal is necessary or not. But most MPs do seem to have agreed upon having a Lokpal (including the ruling dispensation). It is the nitty gritty that everyone is bothered. Get that ironed out, and move on. If it works, that's great. If it does not, there's heck a lot of things that did not. But, someone made an attempt.

    But, why this Kolaveri di?

  2. pkm,

    All I'm pointing out here is that, firstly, he is being wrongly labelled 'Gandhian'. He is not and the article quoted makes this argument based on his views from the past, and I agree with it. For this limited purpose, the past is relevant which I'm sure you'll agree with.

    Secondly, sometimes I get the feeling that he doesn't think straight. Hence the first link to support that feeling.

    Otherwise, yeah, his past, such as it is, doesn't matter much.

  3. >> All I'm pointing out here is that, firstly, he is being wrongly labelled 'Gandhian'

    May be! But, one has to witch-hunt the one who labelled him, somebody has to dig "his" past, and show that s/he is a known defaulter of wrong labeller, hence this label has no meaning.

    He is called Gandhi because somebody else called
    him as one. And, that somebody else called him as Gandhi perhaps because he wears a "Gandhi Topi".

    BTW, we call a friend of mine as Gandhi because 25 years ago when we were in School, this guy who was in NCC was very eager to show another friend how to do "Sit-ups" (which was a punishment), and teacher saw this and asked him "Are you Gandhi? to do his punishment" - That's it the name is stuck even now!

  4. pkm,

    The fact that he is being sold as a modern-day Gandhi is not trivial. It is like Horlicks (or some other drink) being advertised as something that will increase one's height a lot more compared to other health drinks (as it was in TV ads some time ago). During the August fast, he had a big picture of Gandhi behind him. I believe it is misleading advertisement and a means of propaganda and reflects badly on him and his team. They are trying to fool people. Hence my post.

    It is not about going on a search for the first guy who called him Gandhian. It is about pointing out that this is a trick being played by the people who pulled this old man from the village where he was living quietly and foisted him on the country as a Gandhi-figure.