Vanishing Social Space
Tarun Patnaik

The dissolution of the Anna team and the death of a popular social movement in desperate conditions filled with frustration, diminishing popular enthusiasm raises questions and doubts on whether if ever a social movement with radical overtones can succeed in India! The liberal and strongly defensive nature of India's political leaders neither angers the public to fire a social movement nor provides them respite by acceding to their demands.

What are the reasons for which the members of Anna team decided to convert their social movement into a political movement? Is there no hope left for people who do not want to go for elections and power politics but want to meet social objectives that need some action or support from the elected political leaders. While the Anna brigade is exploring the political option, Baba Ramdev is in a process of dilly-dallying with the BJP, which makes people suspect the possibility of him too joining the game of power politics possibly with the help of BJP! Or will he launch his own party? The dichotomy of political movement and social movement blurs in distinction when the objective of the social movement is to affect any legislation. In this particular case, the Anna team struggled for two years with the party in power to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill though in vein. He was made to wait and wait till his support base got tired and frustrated. The political class considers it their sole proprietary privilege to have authority over matters concerned with legislations and laws of the country. No doubt voters have elected the MPs and MLAs to make law on their behalf but does it mean they have delegated with no power left with them to make legislative demands?

After all it is the people for whom laws and legislations are made, how then can they be barred from all or any interference in matters of processes of how these laws are legislated?

There has come up a tall and strong wall between the electors and the elected that has made all types of communication between the public and their elected leaders illegitimate. The elected leaders are in no mood to listen to the voice of the public however popular it may be if it may come in their way of unchallengeable exercise of power and authority.

Vol. 45, No. 12, Sep 30 -Oct 6 2012

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