NEW DELHI: After some Muslim and Dalit groups criticized Team Anna's tactics and agenda, some prominent individuals concerned with tribal issues too have warned that Ramlila Maidan is seeking an anti-democratic solution to corruption - looking for superior leaders at the Centre instead of arguing for greater grassroot democracy.
Largely advocating more decentralization and greater control of people over governance rather than creating institutions or laws that centralise powers, some of them collectively wrote online recently, "To try to fight corruption without fighting for true people's power over the economy and society is impossible." But the unease within the groups working on tribal groups, largely of a Left hue was evident when they signed off the statement in their personal capacity. It was endorsed by Shankar Gopalakrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity - the grouping of mass-based organizations that fought for the Forest Rights Act -- besides others like Biju Mathew of the Mining Zone People's Solidarity Group and C R Bijoy, another activist fighting for tribal rights.
The statement was later endorsed by sociologist Nandini Sundar, who came to prominence with her case against Sulwa Judum in the Supreme Court.
"The Jan Lokpal being sought may address some types of corruption, or it may not do so; but it is not intended to give people any greater control over the state. It is projected as effective not because it will be democratic, but because it will be powerful, because it will stand `above' democracy and politics itself," they warned.
This has been a rising criticism of Anna Hazare's 'movement' - holding agency on behalf of a majority - which by implication reduces the relevance of grievances of those marginalised by lack of numbers or economic strength. The case of Irom Sharmila in Manipur or of those protesting against dams in northeastern states have been cited several times. While displacement of people in the Narmada valley could find popular support at one point of time, similar concerns from the northeastern states have largely been ignored in the rest of the country with the absolute numbers of displaced in comparison failing to evoke sympathy. Being the traditional blind spot of India, of course, has not helped.
Warning that the Team Anna movement was attempting to replace a battered system with a 'good leader' instead of a more democratic system, the signatories to the statement warned, "This raises the question of whether those participating are being asked to fight to build people's power, or whether they are fighting to increase the power of the good leader.
"This movement not only does not weaken the state; implicitly, through the message it sends, it builds people's support for making the state and its leadership more powerful," they have written on a website that has hosted several spirited statements in favour and critical of the anti-graft movement.
Source By: Times Of India