The movie Satyagraha, directed by noted film director Prakash Jha starring Bollywood heavyweights like Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor has just been released.
This movie it is widely claimed, is inspired by the India against Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal.
The movie portrays the uprising of ordinary citizens against a corrupt and powerful government unconcerned with the pain of the Aam Aadmi who is getting crushed under the oppression. It takes us back to August, 2011 when the whole nation had come out on the streets of India. The public was demanding that the government should make a strong law against corruption- the Jan Lokpal Bill. Although many aspects of the story and the characters have been changed, there are too many similarities for the viewer to be left in any doubt, that this fiction borrows heavily from events that transpired in real time. From the fast unto death of Daduji, an honest and upright character played by Amitabh Bachchan, the scenes of Ramlila Maidan with the stage and backdrop, supporters in Gandhi caps, the musicians, the internet messages, all are strongly reminiscent of recent events.
This film resonates the message of people’s power and the need to rise up and fight back against injustice and oppression, using Mahatma Gandhi’s method of ‘Satyagraha’ or nonviolent resistance. The story is gripping, but this movie strikes a special chord with the viewer, because the problem of corruption and lack of governance showcased is not just fiction but a real dire situation that plagues the country today and threatens its future survival. This is a story that depicts the daily struggle of every aam aadmi. Scams involving lakhs of crores of rupees have become an everyday occurrence . Rapes of “Nirbhaya” and “Gudiya” have further brought the nation to the brink of revolt and tested its tolerance. ” Ab Tak Dhheraj Manga Tha, Prabhu Ab Deehraj Mat Dena, Sehte Jaaye, Sahte Jaaye, Aisa Bal Bhi Mat Dena” are not just heart stirring lyrics dripping with pathos from the theme song of the movie, but it almost feels like a cry emanating from a wounded nation’s collective soul. The movie ends with the message that the fight would now have to be fought from within the system, by launching a new political party.
“We have to change the politics Arjun, not from outside but by joining it from inside” is a powerful ending dialogue of the movie.
Moving from reel life to real life, this is where the journey from ‘Satyagraha’ continues to ‘Swaraj’ and the Aam Aadmi party comes into the picture. Arvind Kejriwal and other Aam Aadmi Party leaders realized that ‘Satyagraha’ is the first step of the journey, but the train does not stop there. “Satyagraha’ by itself failed to deliver the solution that the country needed to check the rampant corruption. “Two years have passed since the people protested on the streets of Delhi, but the Lokpal Bill has still not been passed. No political party is ready for it. Because the leaders of all existing political parties have indulged in corruption themselves. Today if they passed the Jan Lokpal Bill, then half of their leaders would go to jail” says Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Arvind Kejriwal and many of the anti-corruption crusaders have now pledged to overthrow a currupt system and put in place clean politics by launching the Aam Aadmi party. The vision of this people’s party is true “Swaraj” (as conceptualized by Mahatma Gandhi), or what we call participatory democracy, where citizens have a say in policies that govern them.
Aam Aadmi Party will make its political debut in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections in November. The party is fielding their candidates in all 70 assembly seats. Their election symbol is the “Jhadu” or broom, symbolizing the cleansing of a corrupt system.. Within 15 days of coming to power, the first thing they promise is to pass the same Janlokpal Bill that people came out on the streets for, in August 2011. All corrupt politicians would be sent to jail within 6 months. “First we will clean Delhi of corruption, and then we will free the rest of the country from corruption” promises Kejriwal in a recent letter to the citizens of Delhi.
It will not be an exaggeration to say that “Satyagraha” is being practiced with full force by the Aam Aadmi Party in their quest for clean politics. While other political parties are opposing the supreme court’s decision to put political parties under the scanner of the RTI, or Right to Information Act, that allows public documents to be accessible to the citizens, AAM AADMI PARTY has willingly made itself open to RTI. From careful screening to keep out anyone with a corrupt or criminal background, to complete financial transparency (including publishing lists of names of their donors on their website), this party is setting standards of accountability and transparency that is a tough act to follow, for any other political party in India.
Recently, the New York Times ran a story about the AAM AADMI PARTY and its leader Mr. Kejriwal, and said: “If virtue alone were to decide elections in India, the two major parties in Delhi, the governing Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, would not stand a chance against Mr. Kejriwal”.
The ending of this story is still to be written. Whether this story will be a forgotten page in history or be remembered as the start of a valiant struggle that rewrote the future of a great nation will depend on the Aam Aadmi and whether he joins the ‘Satyagraha’ and fights for ‘Swaraj’.
Picture abhi baki hai doston—–‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, Uth Kar Karne Hai Kuch Kam’
By Shalini Gupta who lives in Chicago, Illinois and supports the Aam Aadmi Party’s efforts to usher in clean and accountable governance in India.