Defining anarchy, are you President?
President Pranab Mukherjee’s tirade against the AAP-led Delhi government in his speech on the eve of 65th Republic Day, saying that a ‘fractured government’ would be disastrous and not a substitute for real governance, reeks of hypocrisy and double standards. Insinuating that the AAP is a political outfit of ‘corrupt, anarchist’ elements, the head of the Indian republic made a fascinating display of entrenched political biases while singing paeans to the existing but rotting establishment at the Centre. The President’s was an attempt to dismiss a popular movement that involves a good section of the ordinary citizens and voters as an expression of anarchy and mob rule, while also categorising it as a ‘licence to flirt with deadly illusions.’ It is ironic that the man at the heart of the utterly corrupt Congress party for decades, until he became the president of India, would give lectures on corruption and political anarchy to a party that has displayed brilliant political acumen making a mark on the Delhi and national polity within a year of its coming into existence. Although that the President chose the occasion of India’s 65th Republic Day to sound his moral harangue is not unexpected, given his longstanding affiliation to the grand old party and his evident concern for its future after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. There is a decisive derision of the part of the President, who, despite his own humble origin in a Bengal village, has conveniently set aside the democratic leanings of the nation at present for his initial hobnobs with, and later troubleshooting for, the Congress top brass. Hence, Mukherjee’s address, which lamented the shifting fault lines of democracy and dismissed ‘mavericks’ who question the integrity of draconian laws such as AFSPA as irresponsible on a day in which the armed forces get a free hand to display assorted power and glory in rehearsed parades, is hardly a startling development.
Of course, even the mainstream media, particularly the English-language press and newschannels, have latched on to the President’s admonition to Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP and its strategies such as holding a sit-in in the heart of the national capital to demand important and much-needed structural readjustments. In fact, even branding the rise of AAP as an ‘NGO-isation of Indian politics’ is a misleading observation, given that civil participation is the first step towards wrenching a more active role and eventual fledging of a modern political party, and creating an oppositional and alternative space for itself where none existed. As a political commentator has observed, that too, fittingly enough, on a social media platform, even the emergence of the Indian National Congress had its seed in civil society reform movements and its educated Indian elite who wanted a suitably political framework to voice their sociocultural concerns. Hence, even vigilantism, which has been so derided in the mainstream media for the last week or two, is not a homogenous phenomenon, since varieties of it are end products of pressure groups operating to put forward local or community grievances. Whether it is the Naxal movements, the radical politics of the Dalit Panthers, environmental activism in anti-POSCO, anti-Kudankulam nuclear plant agitations or Narmada Bachao Andolan, protest groups have resorted to unusual tactics to make their voices heard, which is not only true to the spirit of the federal character of this republic, but also to the spirit of the Constitution that guarantees fundamental rights to every citizen of India.