Now is the time may be RSS-BJP need to really do some serious ‘chintan,’ introspection. How the whole Anna andolan has eventually boomeranged on them, because of that one man-Arvind Kejriwal. While the RSS-BJP supported ONLY Anna Hazare, the how, when, where, why in the following paras, the fact is BJP leaders went in such a huddle that they couldn’t thereafter maximise the public outcry post Delhi gang-rape, despite some RSS functionaries from Maharashtra telling the formidable ladies of BJP to joint the morcha.
A true opportunity missed by them to divert public attention from Nitin Gadkari. But then what do you expect from a party that stands so divided and traumatised to see one leader from Gujarat become a bigger persona than not only the BJP but also the parent outfit, RSS. Along with it, double fear was that public may turn hostile. Everything that was going smoothly for RSS-BJP seemed just wrong. However, the fact is, it was skewed right from the beginning. With warring And dominating personalities like Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal, it is no surprise that the sacrifice was paid by Anna Hazare…more over the creator of all this JLP Bill andolan-RSS-BJP.
The Indian public still lives in an illusion that Jantar-Mantar andolan was ‘spontaneous’ and Anna felt the pulse of the people’s angst. Wrong. It was directed, motivated and initiated as an andolan by the RSS. However the background for this begins from Maharashtra and that too on an independent level. Post 90s, and especially the ‘Jal Samadhi’ fiasco of Medha Patkar. Well, after repeated threats, having gone on dying fast which attracted world’s media, Patkar called off the Samadhi, which dissolved the entire anti-Narmada dam movement impacting the credibility of activists, NGOs of the state & civil rights movement. The civil society in Maharashtra thereafter maintained a low-profile. Splintered and shattered, it took many other andolans for the activists to get regroup themselves together as united force.
Among the many activist, one in Rallegaon Siddhi, Ahmednagar dist, an uneducated but committed man made a difference using traditional watershed management methods. A dry arid area was converted into green, agriculturally thriving zone. Anna Hazare began getting world famous (no sarcasm) for his watershed management projects. He would go around giving talks, seminars. He also began putting his foot as an activist in speaking against many corruption issues. His potential was seen and tapped by Kumar Sapatarshi, Baba Adhav and Avinash Dharmadhikari. Now, Dharmadhikari has been known to be very close to the RSS. The whole ploy of RSS to disrupt governments is as old as that of the Maoists. The RSS does not believe in the Constitution, India a secular state. This is the basis of their ideology. So they have not only tapped but penetrated every section of the democracy, every branch of the system to perpetuate this very ideology. Except they don’t take up arms.
This group tried and tested Anna, they made a formidable opposition and kept the government on its toes. The Congress being absolutely experienced in ‘managing’ realised it was easy to get around Anna than the other members. So Anna became the person they would deal with, felicitate and get him to negotiate with the governments. This upset the others and they parted, while Anna continued on his own, ably supported by many political parties.
Around 2009, the civil society activists and many of RSS NGO outfits began regrouping. The mood of the public was increasingly angry, impatience building as inflation was rising, while more and more cases of politicians misusing power for their and kin benefits began surfacing. The activists felt it was time to tackle this on a larger platform with a formidable outfit that can address these issues. By then the RTI was implemented and pressure for implementing the Jan Lok Pal Bill was building. Initially Medha Patkar was in the forefront, but people raised issues about her credibility. She didn’t make it an ego-issue and put forward the name of Anna Hazare to lead this movement. It took this entire force to re-group, set up their whole organisation and movement from grass-root to national level. Among all of these the one who is political and has experience of dealing with politicians was Medha Patkar (that she screwed many an opportunities in Narmada movement is another story altogether). Hence the planning and action plan took a while before all talks with various sections of society concretised.
There RSS led NGOs had communicated the developments to the functionaries. RSS within its set-up began contacting their Babas and various groups. I’d broken the story with visual evidence how Baba Ramdev had met RSS top functionaries like Bhaiyaji and others. The core group among others of Team Anna was now Baba Ramdev, Anna, Kejriwal, Bhushans and Kiran Bedi. Then the ones behind the scene which has not been revealed as yet were Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sanathan Sanstha (same reportedly right wing extremist outfit) and Medha Patkar. These all were led by the India Against Corruption the so-called NGO outfit. So while, the public has been believing that all the dhobis, cobblers, domestic help, Dabbawalas, celebrities came on their own to pledge support, sorry it was conspired, planned efficiently (that I give it to them) and strategically.
It wasn’t easy for the RSS to convince within their own party and moreover the BJP to allow Anna to lead this ‘andolan.’ Gadkari for one DESPISES Anna. He doesn’t mince words and can be horribly nasty calling him names. However convinced with the whole plan, strategy and yet last minute backing out feeling, Gadkari extended his support. This was a do-or-die situation for the BJP. They would never get such a golden opportunity as they envisaged it. Meanwhile the Civil Society lobby had begun contacting their target audiences. Which ranged from Corporates, Sec-A society, celebs, other deprived sections, convincing them how this ‘Gandhian’ way to topple the MOST corrupt government would be within their grasp. Once assured, the plan began unfolding.
Now mind you, the key word to convince all these sections which took precisely two-years of planning was ‘Gandhian,’ and that was what Patkar had told the civil society lobby. Anna was the modern face of Gandhian thought. That something as simple as this man supported public flogging would never come across people’s minds was part of the branding and positioning done by the creative persons (who are very close to RSS) and RSS brains who knew how to promote Anna.
There began the famous Jantar-Mantar andolan. The biggest high that RSS-BJP may have ever experienced in their lives and the biggest that will never again be seen by the civil society movement. The whole of Team Anna, IAC, NGO movement, opposition was one. The big mistake the Delhi-centric Congress did, they forgot there existed leaders from Maharashtra. Mind you the RSS-BJP feared it the most. They still chuckle behind closed doors, how idiotic the central leadership was IGNORING the late CM Vilasrao Deshmukh who was the only apart from Sharad Pawar who knew Anna and could convince him. Rest we know chronologically what happened.
Initially itself Anna according to the RSS official, “Had begun cozying upto Soniaji. He said he trusted her and then we decided it was enough.” The other point being Anna seemed pleased with the parliamentary committee appointed, which riled these RSS officials. They pointed out to Anna that Sharad Pawar was a member and instigated him against this appointment. RSS leaders convinced Anna to go on a fast-unto-death. Mind you they could convinced this man because for some odd reason Anna had begun believing he could something for the nation.
What is not public is that some of RSS people very close to Anna were constantly in touch with him. On two occasions the RSS officials say they noted Team Anna had faltered. Firstly, when Anna himself covered up noticing the mistake. While on second, the RSS made a mental note, which was to cost Anna his credibility in future. Now this is where Team Anna forgot that the push and support was coming from RSS and should have respected it. On first occasion, Team Anna did NOT allow RSS and BJP leaders to share the stage. One among them was Gopinath Munde. A formidable leader and definite crowd puller for the OBCs. Later Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan bulldozed Anna. They time and again distanced themselves from the RSS and kept ensuring Anna distanced himself from RSS-BJP. Point was noted in RED.
The first time RSS official learnt Vilasrao was being sent by the UPA govt, they called Anna and convinced him to not give-in. They asked him to stretch his fast, while he waited, they also called Vilasrao and informed him that Anna wasn’t ready and he shouldn’t go. Vilasrao was terribly upset with both. According to a RSS official, “He was geuinely concerned of Anna’s health.” In fact during that period I was in touch with Vilasrao who one late night lamented about the way this whole issue was dealt by the UPA govt. He even told me, “I don’t know what they have in mind.” When I asked him why weren’t leaders like him, Pawar being consulted, “They have bigger leaders to guide them,” and laughed in his usual style.
Things had begun getting too risky. For once RSS officials got concerned because they too realised Anna’s health had deteriorated. “I’m honestly telling you, his condition had become precarious,” RSS source told me. That was when he personally called Vilasrao and asked him to step in. “I give it to that man, not once was he egoistic, he genuinely was concerned for the man’s health.”
Post Jantar-Mantar time had come for further planning. And with Kejriwal and Bhushan litereally remote-controlling Anna, the RSS-BJP decided to keep complete low-profile and watch their plans. By then at the national level new developments were taking place. President Pranabda was sworn in. He set up a panel, Arun Jaitley was asked to write the draft so the BJP leaders began taking it easy on the public protest front. They were watching Team Anna, which they realised sooner than Anna himself, that there’d be in-fighting. To add to their decision making was the fact that Anna himself was flip-flopping.
RSS-BJP leaders felt, post-Jantar Mantar success, it was time to build on it and move forward and with the many ideas. To again sit on a fast was not a good idea. That would show lack of programme and goal. Team Anna had other ideas and there began Anna’s problems. He placed extreme trust in Kejriwal and Bhushan, who the RSS accuses of hijacking the whole andolan. RSS officials realised it was time to send a STRONG message. They withdrew all support. “Ya Kejriwal ne single handedly sagla nuksan kela, je kahi amhala milala hota.” “This Kejriwal has single-handedly ruined everything that we gained.” So in Dec 2011 at BKC, one did NOT see crowds like during the first morcha. RSS and all the outfits which had previously supported Anna backed out. As a result one did not see the ‘spontaneous’ (sarcasm intended) crowds. This marked the end of an Andolan and Anna’s credibility.
“The 2 people who are dangerous and Anna needs to be wary of are Prashant Bhushan and Kejriwal,” said this RSS man. It is evident too with the way things unfolded. Kejriwal became a spoiler for the same RSS-BJP. “Yes, he began targeting our own leaders. We were aware what he is capable so we had backed out in time. We believe he is a Congress man.” The RSS strongly feels Kejriwal is a mole planted by the Congress, while Congress too interestingly believes Kejriwal’s a BJP man! As for Kiran Bedi, the RSS is upfront that they will support her. “She is pushy, but manageable. We have told her she can choose any constituency anywhere in the country and we will support her, even if she doesn’t contest on our ticket.” So Bedi’s future is ensured.
As for General VK Singh, the RSS-BJP is clear he is a ‘deranged’ man as one called him. They feel he crossed the line. “Don’t forget Neeta what we did to Admiral Bhagwat. And we then don’t see if anyone is a Brahmin or not. He had no right to take on our govt. It is a shame what VK Singh spoke about democracy and governance at that event in Mumbai. How did the UPA let him stay? They should’ve sacked him.” This is the RSS-BJP’s strong view. They say, “Wait, VK Singh wants to enter Rajya Sabha. Oh! he won’t contest elections, votes kon deil tyana?”
The many conversations I’ve had with some RSS officials I suspected who master-minded the andolan have made only helped proved my suspicions right. They are clear what their agenda was and were aware of the shortcomings. RSS is upfront about one thing, “This wasn’t spontaneous. It was extremely well-planned. But the public was agianst the govt.” So in case those who are reading this had participated in the Andolan for a modern-Gandhi, with ideals, who was non-political, think again…how easily one’s emotions can be used, but I accept how well they had planned at every level. This can be a management lesson. From grass-root to national level, individuals, corporates, every section of society, media, civil society and politicians. Except the Maharashtra’s Marathi newspapers and channels, (leave aside IBN Lokmat) who knew all along that at the end it would be a fight for credibility. Which was proven at BKC . An andolan that stands disbanded today and may never find that high it got with able support from RSS-BJP.