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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Diggi’s Anna obsession; will the Congress never learn?

Digvijaya Singh is incorrigible, or is it the Congress?

While the prime minister and other senior ministers are busy placating Anna Hazare, who’s out on a mission to damage the Congress’ prospects in the Hisar bypoll, Digvijaya is hellbent on digging up dirt on the Gandhian. It cannot be sheer accident that the party and the government are on different tracks; there has to be more to it. It is possible the Congress is playing a double game, which it is known to be adept at.

To substantiate his claim that Anna is propped up by the RSS, which he believes is the secret source of strength behind his anti-corruption movement, the Congress general secretary has ferreted out a letter allegedly written by RSS functionary Sunil Joshi to Anna. It makes some claims on the organisation’s support to the movement.

Anna does not need to respond to Digvijaya. He has clarified several times that he has no association with the RSS or the BJP. Given his stature his words have to be taken at face value. AFP
Just yesterday, he had asked the Gandhian why he was opposing the Congress and praising Narendra Modi who was not keen on having a Lokayukta in Gujarat. Earlier, he had claimed, attributing it to unreliable sources that the BJP had promised to make Anna the presidential candidate.

This is at a time when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Salman Khurshid are busy mollifying the anti-corruption crusader. On Tuesday, Singh had promised Anna not only a strong Lokpal Bill but other reforms, particularly electoral reforms, as well. Khurshid had assured him that the Lokpal would be a constitutional body like the election commission.

Anna does not need to respond to Digvijaya. He has clarified several times that he has no association with the RSS or the BJP. Given his stature his words have to be taken at face value. Moreover, if the RSS supports him on its own, as the letter claims, he cannot be accused of being a Sangh Parivar supporter. It would be naive to believe that such a big movement is not far more broad-based in its appeal. The RSS could have been a force multiplier, nothing more than that.

That Anna and his team have got embroiled in politics rather unnecessarily, that it might be counterproductive and that it works against the Congress at this point are a separate set of issues. What is intriguing at the moment is the desperate attempt from the Congress to paint the Gandhian in saffron.

Is it the classic case of the government and the party working at cross-purposes? Or is it a deliberate effort from the party to confuse people? The Congress is not going to gain from confusing people. Possibly, it is too confused itself.

It is not possible that none in the party is aware of Digvijaya’s ill-conceived attacks on Anna. But no word of disapproval has been heard so far. It means he has the tacit support of the party high command for his action. He is allowed to shoot off open letters to Anna making bizarre allegations aimed at lowering his credibility. A loose cannon has its uses too.

Where does that leave the government? In the cold, surely. Even if it is sincere in its efforts in meeting Anna’s demands and building bridges with him, it cannot do much. Digvijaya’s efforts are bound to nullify its good intentions. He sends out the impression that the party is not in agreement with the government. His closeness to Rahul Gandhi further complicates matters.

The party and the government can ill-afford such confusion at this point. Both are at the lowest point in terms of public perception on the corruption front. Both have been seen to be bungling big time in the handling of Anna’s anti-corruption crusade. The recent developments reflect that they still have not worked out a way to handle the movement.


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