Why is Team Anna targeting the PM?
A combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he would quit politics if charges of corruption in allocating coal blocks, levelled against him by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption team, are proved.
So why is Team Anna going after Singh? Especially since the allegations are based on a federal auditor’s draft report in which there is no direct proof of corruption or gains made by the prime minister.
They have been criticised for their generalisation of the political class and officialdom as corrupt, their over-simplified view on how to fight corruption and use of crass language, like when senior member Prashant Bhushan called Singh “Shikhandi” (a mythological character in the Mahabharata) to describe him as someone who shields corrupt officials.
This is a far cry from last year when Hazare launched his first hunger strike to demand the creation of an anti-corruption ombudsman. It ignited country-wide protests against corruption and round-the-clock coverage by the media.
Enthusiasm has gradually waned after some bizarre comments by Hazare (including asking people to slap corrupt officials and calling for public flogging of alcoholics), his reported affiliation with right-wing groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and frequent clash of statements by team members on important issues.
The Hindustan Times said in an editorial that the activists should come clean on their own record on finances — like who foots the group’s bill for travel and other expenses — before renewing their campaign against corruption.
The Indian Express said the accusation against Singh and the language used was a “cheap shot” that showed Team Anna’s “desperation” in trying to remain relevant in the public eye.
Is targeting the prime minister a way back into the spotlight?
(You can follow David on Twitter @david_reuters)