Wednesday, 17 August 2011
So then how did this obscure, unknown old man manage to capture the nation’s collective imagination? Why is the junta, cutting across social, caste, religious and regional divide, whole-heartedly supporting him? What has gone into the making of the mighty Brand Anna?
Here are three possible explanations:
1. There has been a crisis of leadership in this nation for a long time now. People of India sorely miss a leader they can respect and trust. The last formidable leader we had was Mrs Indira Gandhi (despite her short comings) and there has been none of note after her death. Rajiv Gandhi flattered to deceive. Atalji could have been that leader but he owed his allegiance to a highly communal parent, and the Gujarat riots happened under his watch. Apart of these two, our leaders have been either inefficient or corrupted or both.
In this scenario, out of the blue, trots in a man endearingly called Anna. And using the forgotten methods of Bapu, he promises to clean up the nation. He has no shady past, he seemingly has no affiliation to a political party, he stands for non-violence, and tells us things we want to hear. It’s simple, really. Anna Hazare has quietly occupied a vacant slot in this nation. That of a leader we were all looking for. And I daresay if a referendum was to be held in this nation tomorrow on who should be our PM, 99.99% of the people will choose Anna. And the rest would opt for Dr Manmohan Singh. Such is the crisis of leadership in the nation.
It must also be noted that a vast majority of the populace has no idea what the Lok Pal bill stands for and how it will cure the scourge of corruption. People aren’t rooting for the bill, that’s just a symbolic tool…. they are rooting for Anna, the leader of the masses.
2. In politics, perception is more important than reality. No one knows if Anna Hazare has a hidden agenda behind his Lok Pal crusade, no one knows if there are secret forces propelling his march, no one knows if what he really wants is a grand entry into politics. And frankly, no one cares. All this nation is clamouring for is a clean leader who can get things done. All we are looking for is an honest, decent, go-getter messiah. And Anna fits into that perception very nicely. The Congress leaders tried very hard to kill that perception, they tried to fling crap at Hazare by calling him corrupt, but it didn’t work. Because no one cares, really. So what if he blew up two lakh rupees on his birthday, we asked. That’s a bloody paltry sum compared to the looting and plundering the Congress has done on this nation for decades. It’s the perception that’s the most important thing. Anna can do no wrong, we have already decided that in our minds.
3. What also seems to be working for Anna is his immensely charming persona. He LOOKS like a man we can trust. And when it comes to leadership, don’t underestimate this factor. He is 70+, a senior citizen, and still wants to bring about change in a nation in which he realistically speaking has no personal stake. This makes him a crowd favourite. Indians are emotional people, and we can’t sit back and do nothing when an old gent is out there fighting for our rights. In addition, Anna LOOKS like a really sweet grandpa, Santa Clause if you will. He is the father figure we never had. He is the affable Dadaji we want in the house. He is that cute teddy bear we all adore. We all want to reach out to him, protect him, hold him. Once again, don’t underestimate the importance of his personality, it is playing a huge role in his success. Just imagine for a second, even with all his noble intentions, if he looked like Om Prakash Chautala or HD Deve Gowda. The crowds would have vanished a long time ago.