‘Be it Anna or Ramdev, we must support them’

Akash Bisht Delhi
 
Seated in his comfortable office in Jangpura, South Delhi, Ram Madhav fiddles with his i-phone before he starts to type on a shiny Apple Macbook. He also has an i-pad connected to his notebook hinting that the young RSS spokesperson is tech savvy and prefers to network through these modern technology marvels. He informs that his recent blog on ‘Diggisation (referring to Digvijay Singh) of Chidambaram’ is getting rave reviews. Born in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, Madhav is an electrical and electronics engineer who also studied political science in the University of Mysore. He has been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the supreme outfit in the Sangh Parivar, since1981, and has been its national spokesperson since 2003. In conversation with Hardnews: 
 
Your views on Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev’s movement against corruption.
In the last few years people have increasingly got fed up with the failure of the entire government machinery, including the political leadership, besides a section of the bureaucracy and judiciary. There has been rampant corruption and unaccountability of the government administration and there is widespread anger. That has thrown up leaders like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. They represent the intense angst of the people against corruption and unaccountability of our system. We see it as a reflection of the public loot. That is why we extended our wholehearted support to these movements which are mass political movements, essentially popular movements that are a manifestation of people’s anger against corruption. 
 
Do you think that bringing the Lokpal Bill would end corruption that is so deep-rooted in our system?
It is not necessary that one bill would address the entire set of problems, but it is definitely a step ahead in the direction of cleansing our system. Anna Hazare wanted a bill that would make the bureaucracy and political leadership accountable to an authority. That is what Lokpal is all about and it is certainly a positive step forward. Baba Ramdev wanted the black money stashed away in foreign banks to be brought back and that will make the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists accountable to public. Everybody would then be accountable and answerable to the people.
 
Anna has threatened to resume his fast from August 16 despite the fact that the bill would be discussed in Parliament during that time.
Any such bill or reform has to go through Parliament. He is a public voice and that is the reason he is resorting to such steps like fasts. It is acceptable and democratic. In a democracy it is now an accepted form of protest because if the government doesn’t listen to the people then what do people do? However, the only thing is that you should do it for genuine causes. Anna Hazare has said that he will wait for the government’s bill and if it is appropriate then there is no problem. But, if it is below expectations, then only will he go for it. 
 
What was your reason for joining Anna’s campaign?
What we feel is that be it Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev or any other person, we must support them. These people are respected. People’s anger has grown over the years and they chose them as their leaders. 
 
Anna was criticized for sharing the dais with you and it has been alleged that his movement had the backing of the Sangh Parivar. After this appeared in the media, Anna’s group seems to have distanced from your organisation. 
The government has always tried to divert public attention from the real issues that these movements are raising, be it Baba Ramdev or Anna Hazare. They were raising certain crucial issues and the government, in order to duck the issues, raised unconnected issues like who is behind these movements; if RSS is behind them or they are the mukhota (mask) of the RSS. We would only say that these are very old tactics of the government to divert attention. We are behind nobody and not even ahead of anybody (laughs). We are with everyone who is fighting for the interest of this country. 
I don’t want to get into the inner issues of whether they (Anna camp) are talking to us, how they are talking to us, what they are talking to us. All these issues are not for public consumption. I would only say that irrespective of what people say in public domain, we have directed our cadres to support all initiatives that are being raised for the well-being of the country. Our youth wing, ABVP, too, is running a campaign against corruption in college campuses. 
 
What is your view on Digvijay Singh’s verbal tirades against Anna’s movement and Sangh Parivar?
We do not want to attach any great significance to what he says and his own party doesn’t care much about what he says. We do not see great reason behind anything that he is doing. Today, his stature in public life has gone down drastically and that is his own doing.
 
How do you respond to the recent Lokayukta report in Karnataka? Are you pressuring the chief minister to resign? 
On this issue, the BJP has to respond. I am sure they will respond appropriately. We will not interfere in these matters and it is important because media is running stories that there is RSS pressure. We will never interfere in the day to day affairs of 
the BJP. 
 
Do you think that Yeddyurappa should resign?  Congress routinely claims, how can BJP talk about corruption when one of their chief ministers is under the cloud of suspicion?
The Congress stand is political rhetoric. By the same logic, the prime minister and home minister should go after what A Raja has said in the Supreme Court. These things keep happening; when it comes to day to day political issues, let the concerned parties decide. 
 
There is a view that due to the absence of a formidable opposition, Anna and Ramdev were propelled by the Sangh Parivar. It is alleged that the Sangh was willing to let BJP ride piggyback on their campaigns.
There are many intellectuals who have come out with such bizarre theories. If you say that there is no strong opposition, I would say that there is no strong ruling party. The ruling party is in so much decay that they are always on the back foot; even the media has not been able to defend them. Their own leaders are saying that the Congress party is a circus. I ridicule all such theories that we want to ride piggyback on certain figures. On the contrary, we sense the public mood; it is against the ruling party which is in a big mess. Today, there is an information revolution and even people at the grassroots are aware of what is happening in the country.    
 
 
 
 
 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2011

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