Bangalore, Oct 10: Things would have been different had Jagan Mohan Reddy or Chandrababu Naidu did their hunger strikes a few decades ago, during the era of Gandhi. At least, that would have saved them the embarassment of being called gimmick strikers.
The era is gone now and so has the mind set of the people to create a mass revolution out of it. Forget Gandhiji when he went on hunger strikes to protest against the British rule and finally won the battle. It was no political feat as Gandhiji had pledged 'hunger till death'; neither was there any fear of death nor was there an urgency to win popular votes.
True, even these fasts have an agenda and a goal, but the inclination is ultimately popular votes. Plus, there is the security of life as there are lesser chances of death during hunger strike that too outside the prison.
A weak stir?
The popularity of Gandhiji is way beyond any comparisons. Thousands were motivated and participated willingly in his movements. The present stir as compared to that can be nothing but an embarassment for Indians as the country projects a melodramatic group of ministers, who are supposedly the leaders of the nation.
A detailed investigation proves that political hunger strikes have a similarity to those followed in Ireland long back. Here, the people denied civic rights would literally go on a hunger strike at the doorstep of the person who had wronged him. And if he died in the process, the accused would have to repay all his debts and compensate the dead's family.
But gone are those days as apart from a few sloganeering and mocked media reports, nothing else changes. As a result, the fast is called off (in secrecy) or with fanfare, just to make the quitting more gracious.
A political gimmick
It is getting difficult to trust our leaders by the day, thanks to their criminal records. Hence, for obvious reasons their 'fasting' does not seem to be a 'fast' at all. For instance, Chandrababu Naidu declared his decision to begin a fast against the division of Telangana on September 7 amid much fanfare. Half the day went in travelling to the city and majority of the second half went in visiting the ghats and paying homages.
Considering that day gone, he technically has fasted for two days and is already suffering. Same with YSR Congress leader Jaganmohan Reddy who has reportedly fasted for five days and is now being 'force' fed. Meanwhile, Chandrababu Naidu (amid all his hardships) has been asked to leave the Andhra Bhavan (for obvious reasons). Jaganmohan Reddy on the other hand was taken in preventive custody by the police (again for obvious reasons) and 'convinced' to have food.
Amid this drama, is the goal achieved?
We think not. Starting from the days of Anna Hazare, we have repeatedly seen how these hunger strikes have been struck by government forces and stubbed, that too with no results. We still do not have any idea about the fate of the Jan Lok Pal Bill for which Anna Hazare went on a strike.
The same holds true for Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy. True, the Telangana formation was decided on the basis of such protests alone, but the question is till when? Congress may have won its commission of votes from the decision, but will it win again if it revoked its decision? It, probably, has to think twice before taking any action at this crucial juncture. And this thinking could take ages.
Hunger strike or no strike, in a country like India where divisive, rather than decisive politics has a huge role to play, issues, bills and ordinances would have the same fate.
TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu being examined by doctors during the third day of his indefinite fast over Telangana issue at Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday.
A companion forever
TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu during the 3rd day of his indefinite fast over Telangana issue at Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday. Naidu's wife Nara Bhuvaneshwari is also seen with him.
Doctors check the health of YSR Congress President Jaganmohan Reddy on the fifth day of his fast over Telangana issue in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
YSR Congress Party President YS Jaganmohan Reddy with his supporters during third day of his indefinite fast in Hyderabad on Monday.
Jan Lok Pal Bill for which Anna Hazare went on a strike
The Anna Hazare campaign had taken India by a rave. The hunger strike by the veteran activist stirred the government, but not enough to decide the fate of the Bill.