Anna started making in-roads in the psyche of the common man. Government saw the public fury now openly expressing it. Many of the elected representatives had never seen such a crisis situation in their lifetime. Public, for them, had become a recurring bank account with election time as the only point to offer some more blank cheques of hope in return of another official term to splurge on the wealth of a poor nation. Call for the name Anna grew louder and soon the name Anna became larger than the simple and honest person Anna. Government came under the mounting public pressure and had to release Anna’s release orders but it was still not accepting that it faulted in handling the situation. Anna refused to budge. The mobilization opposing the government started chanting the name ‘Anna’.
That was the beginning of the Anna Symbolism. As Anna continued with his Fast, the intense media support to it made it an issue to be updated regularly without any break. Government seemed to slip into a slumber with some more foolish steps. And with Anna’s Fast inside the jail and his appeal to the common Indian, a mature face of the Indian democracy of the common man emerged that took to the streets peacefully to tell the government it was not going to take any false assurance on tackling corruption this time.
Here came the Anna Phenomenon to give a disciplined expression to the public anger simmering all these years. By the time Anna came out of the jail on August 19, he was dictating his terms and yet majority of Indians welcomed it as Anna’s cause was echoing with their thought process. Anna rode high on the support mobilizing more and more people. Anna became larger than life symbolizing the fight of the common man against corruption.
On August 20, lakhs took to the Delhi streets to rally for Anna just on a call of Anna. Anna remained resolute, his support base enlarged while the government committed mistakes after mistakes. Congress leaders who were justifying Anna’s arrest, questioning his character and advocating for a tough gesture, started taking the line that Anna’s integrity was beyond doubt and they didn’t feel good about Anna’s arrest, even Ambika Soni and Kapil Sibal!
On August 21, the sixth day of Anna’s Fast, when Anna asked his supporters to do ‘gherao’ and do ‘Gandhigiri’ at houses of their representatives, politicians across the country saw their houses blocked by protestors. On August 22, the seventh day of Anna’s Fast, Congress MPs like Sanjay Nirupam and Priya Dutt came out in full support of Anna Hazare when they faced this ‘Gandhigiri ’and more or less, it was the stand adopted by most of the representatives barring few inhabiting the crisis creating block of the government. Agreed, they might have done it under pressure of their electorate but the remarkable thing is they had to realize it so soon, just within a day of Anna’s call. And so, when Pranab Mukherjee and Sheila Dikshit said such protests didn’t matter, it was again a poor face saving exercise giving more prominence to the relevance of the Cause symbolized by Anna.
The sanctity of the Anna Symbolism lies in its uniformity for everyone. The same police that crushed Ramdev’s Fast at the same ground, is deployed unarmed visibly and is offering help to the visiting protestors politely. Many of them could be seen with their families at the Ramlila Ground. It can be felt in other parts of Delhi and at other places where peaceful protests are taking place. Ask some of them personally and they simply start lambasting their higher-ups and the government for making mess of the whole issue. It would be an interesting study to be conducted on the families of the police personnel to find what they think about Anna’s fight and what they felt when someone from the family was involved in arresting Anna. Anna’s movement may not and cannot wipe out corruption in a day but can help us to initiate in Gandhian values. Anna has successfully used the Gandhian experiments to bring a large section of the Indians out to demand for the ‘Jan Lokpal’ and it obviously has given way to the irrelevant debates on comparing Anna with the Mahatma.