The “resolution” passed by both houses of Parliament last night that saw Anna Hazare accepting coconut water and honey from a Dalit girl and Muslim girl this morning, marks a defining moment in the brief history of the Indian republic. In having to give in to his three “sticky” demands, the MPs and through them, the government, have had to listen to the millions who joined him physically (and silently) in the outrage against unbridled State-sponsored corruption.
In a democracy that had become a one-way, top-down monologue, where “We, the People” had to meekly accept whatever “They, the Politicians and Political Parties” dished out, the conversation has been restored, even if at gunpoint and even if many in government and Parliament (and their paid pipers in the establishment media) do not like the sound of it. That much should be clear even to a school girl and should be heralded as such.
Still, as Hazare himself points out, it is half a victory, and a more treacherous road is ahead. But what even this half-a-victory—achieved without a drop of blood being shed, achieved without a gunshot being fired, achieved without a life being lost—shows is that there is nothing impossible beyond our reach if we want it badly enough. We only need to ask, and ask for it loudly enough across the country for the deaf souls of our democracy to hear.
Corruption is certainly not going to end with the passage of the Lok Pal bill, if and when that happens, but it is a step to put the fear of the good lord in the crooked. Hazare has indicated that electoral reforms are next on the agenda, and has spoken of demanding the right to recall representatives who do not measure up to our expectations, and the right to reject candidates put by political parties to represent us.
Questions: Will a right to reject or recall achieve the same kind of traction as the more secular, universal issue of corruption did among the people? Is it feasible? Will parties and politicians accede to such a demand as easily? Or are Hazare biting off more than they can chew?