Gandhi, Anna comparison on

With the ongoing protests on the Jan Lokpal issue gathering steam, Anna Hazare has been compared by some with Mahatma Gandhi. Mr Hazare has used fasting as a technique of agitation, the same as the Mahatma. He also projects a rural persona of simplicity. Experts, however, believe that the analogy is far- fetched, and say that apart from the use of khadi, the two are very different from one another. A well-known historian and scholar of the freedom movement, Prof. Aditya Mukherjee of JNU, noted in response to a question, “What Anna is doing in the name of satyagrah is nothing but blackmail. Gandhi would have never taken a stubborn stand that only his view was correct, and everything else was wrong and therefore unacceptable to him. Anna’s form of protest reeks of Fascist tendencies.”

The historian also said that Gandhi took pains to reach consensus, and always kept open room for discussions with the other side in order to find a solution. “But in the ongoing protests we see that far from conducting a dialogue, Anna is confined to one opinion, and instead of building public opinion he is using such pressure tactics to bend everyone to his views,” he added.

The authority of Parliament and sanctity of the Constitution cannot be challenged, Prof. Mukherjee observed and accused Mr Hazare and his supporters of doing just that.

He spoke of another dissimilarity between Gandhi and Anna. The Mahatma wanted to decentralise power while Anna was calling for tighter control of power. “By creating a Lokpal we will only end up creating another machinery for generation of bribes. Who will control the `20,000 crores bureaucracy being proposed by Anna? Who will keep a check on them? And how will agencies like the CBI become less corrupt if they began operating under another agency-the proposed Lokpal,” the historian asked.

Dr Parth J. Shah, the founder president of the Centre for Civil Society observed, “With non-violence and satyagraha being used as a means of protest against corruption, there is a strong resemblance between the protests led by Anna and those that had been headed by Gandhi. However, it will not be justified if we compare the two individuals.”

Publication: 
The Asian Age
Publication Date: 
19 August 2011