Mr Pawar reacted, politically correctly – ‘we should not make much of this’.
Anna Hazare, politically unwisely, blurted out impulsively, Ek hee mara ? (‘Just one slap’). Anna has since been hard put to it, to put his remark in perspective.
TV news channels made a meal of it, re-playing the action shot right through the 24 hr news cycle, prompting BJP MP Smriti Irani to take on the electronic media that, she said, thrived on sensationalism. Mr Vinod Mehta of Outlook, on a Times Now talk-show, weighed with his editorial observation – ‘it’s the biggest story of the day’
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, to the media hanging out at Parliament House VIP exit: “where is the country going to”.
Prashant Bhushan-to-Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN-IBN: “Democracy has to be freed from a oligarchy of politicians and higher bureaucracy”. Another Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, at the same talk-show, dismissed the anchor’s suggestion that the angry young aam admi with penchant for attack on political netas might have been influenced by strident stance adopted by Team Anna members . Kejriwal countered Sardesai – ‘do you want us to have our lips sealed ?’ To protest was one’s democratic right, though he did mention, for the record, that physical violence was not acceptable to Team Anna.
Talk-show host Sardesai wasn’t the only one to have given expression to a thought that Team Anna, in its self-assigned role as a ‘saviour’ in a democracy, may well become part of the problem. Britain’s academic and a Labour peer Bhikhu Parekh, in a recent lecture on the crisis in Indian democracy, is reported as saying, a growing public support for Anna Hazare-style protests, led by unelected campaigners, bode ill for Indian democracy. In his 2011 address – in the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture series – Lord Parekh reckoned that democracy was in danger of losing legitimacy, if elected politicians failed to meet public expectations, and people, in frustration, started mobilizing around “leaders” who had no democratic mandate, but could have plenty of self-serving agendas.
I don’t know if any media other than The Hindu reported Lord Parekh’s address in London recently. In his thought-provoking talk Lord Parekh raises eminently arguable issues – the very stuff of which prime time talk-shows are made. Wish the Kanwal’s, Goswami’s and Sardesai’s of our media take note .