Monday, June 6, 2011

What Were They Thinking?

The Midnight swoop on Baba Ramdev's fast in the Ramlila Maidan might have ended the nightmare in Delhi, but with the Baba resuming his fast in Hardwar, it seems unlikely that the pressure on the Union Government is going to fall. For one, they can't stop the fast now because Uttarakhand is a BJP-ruled state. And Anna Hazare's team has simultaneously tightened the noose.

Which brings me to the logical question - what exactly was the Government thinking? Did it actually believe that at a time when the entire country had put the UPA on the dock, it could act like a big thug and intimidate everybody into submission? No, that would have been suicide. Rather, it seems that this was not for any law-and-order cause, the eviction was a political message.

It is no secret that the Baba has connections with the RSS and is a natural BJP ally. He might deny any political affiliation but then his actions show otherwise. Clearly, the Congress was not happy with the Government's decision to deal with someone like him. Yet, it let the Government humour him before pulling the plug. The decision to break it all up was definitely taken at 10, Janpath, not 7, RCR.

So, what does the Congress hope to have gained from all this? Well, for one, Hardwar cannot maintain a crowd as large as Delhi can and will not get enough attention. The Congress probably hopes that the fast will fall into oblivion. But more importantly, the Congress has drawn a line to the extent that it wants Civil Society to directly participate in governance (unless you're Sonia Gandhi's minions a la the NAC). Next time anyone thinks of using this method to get their way, they will think twice.

However, the political fallout is there for all to see. The BJP of course condemned the move but even regional players like Nitish Kumar, Mayawati, Naveen Pattanaik and Chandrababu Naidu condemned it. The Congress is clearly between a rock and a hard place and only a strong Lokpal Bill can get it out. But that doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon, which means that the Manmohan Singh Government has just fallen several notches lower and closer to the point of destruction.

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