Is a new political entity an answer? Random conjectures on the future of Team Anna- Aug 2, 2012

Will Team Anna enter politics? Should they? Will such a move end our woes, provide a more rational, appealing option to voters, especially urban voters in India? It’s a question that has daunted me the past few days and something I wondered about even last year when Team Anna’s movement against corruption was its focal issue and at a high point.

Today, the team clearly announced that they would enter politics to provide a “political alternative” to the ‘corrupt’ political class”. They also said they would support candidates committed to “patriotism” and “country’s development”.

If I were to be outright cynical (and I confess I feel that way about a lot of things happening in the Indian political scene right now), I would say Kejriwal’s original plan has always been to start a political party. Even last year, his comments betrayed his leaning in this direction, but Anna himself maintained a neutral stand. The debate on extending this movement into a political one seems to be growing right now.

What does this development mean for us as citizens? For very long, our sense of disillusionment with politicians has been intense. Many urban, educated voters are really caught between a rock and a hard place while trying to take sides between the Congress-UPA bunch and the BJP-NDA lot on the other. Theoretically, a third front has always been an option. But putting together such an alternative is an enormous challenge.

It is one thing to call upon politicians to answer on charges of corruption and demand change as a citizen group. But will Kejriwal and his allies be capable of the political acumen required to play the power games? Will they remain clean when they are in the system? I don’t see in this team the kind of charismatic leadership you need to upset the power balance in a democracy as large as India. I’ve heard Kejriwal speak up close and while he has his facts pat, he came across as hot headed, even a bit rabid. His simplicity and uprightness is very appealing, but I wasn’t bowled over. Not by a long shot. Who else, with Anna clearly taking a non-political stand. (Of course, one could argue that the two main parties are just as bereft of capable leadership!) I’m also wondering if TA has a pan India base. I don’t know enough and would love to learn more. And importantly, an alternate political party needs to have a bigger vision for the nation. I don’t quite see that here, though it can evolve by logically extending the current principles of transparency, democratic process, etc.

Despite my doubts, I do admire the courage and conviction of the movement. I wish it had not waivered, but rather stuck to its original agenda of targeting graft. I also wish it had focused as much on efficiency of governance as on corruption; efficiency and optimization through technology and better processes would go a long way in solving most of the day-to-day problems citizens face, and control low-level corruption.

I also understand that it is logical to fight the system from inside if you cannot make a dent from the outside. If Team Anna can unveil a well-rounded and more palatable vision for India, then they might well get popular support. However, I suspect a lot of their appeal until now has been that they represented the common man and fought against the establishment. Now that they aspire to be the establishment, the expectations will change drastically. To keep their agenda afloat in this new milieu will be quite a challenge. Let’s wait and watch- the run up to 2014 is getting exciting!

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5 thoughts on “Is a new political entity an answer? Random conjectures on the future of Team Anna- Aug 2, 2012

  1. Mam, actually I was in for a shock as well well, Mr Anna announced his decision that he is gonna end the fast and take this revolution to a new level that is by forming a party . My personal opinion kudos to Mr Anna and team as they started this movement on a very positive note , at the very time one after the other so many scams were emerging , you name it from fodder to 2g allocation , to mine, to adarsh to airindia. Not to mention so many others which couldn’t be highlighted by media on a large scale.
    Coming to the point , Anna team was so close in achieving their target last year , that almost government came down to their knees. The whole nation was with them , every Indian I am sure was with Anna jee , and I am sure the reason would be enough is enough , now no more. I even thought something of a Egypt revolution is on the cards , but of course Anna jee and team took the nonviolent course, which was nice. But government played a dirty game and lok pal wasn’t passed ,just we thought it would have . And then somewhere down the line the movent just lost its momentum, Indians I feel took Anna team lightly . As you might agree with me we are very tolerable , i feel it’s been rooted in us right from the very beginning . The system from lower to higher level is very corrupt , from the bureaucracy to the ministers to the office level baboo and clerks.
    Now for team Anna to start a political party you need lot of funding , and I seriously feel a lot of money is involved . Election commission has limited the funding to around lakhs, ( don’t know the exact figure though) , but every one should agree with me , with this money election can’t be won , and parties except some donation from rich individuals and corporate housesand that too in many crores. Straight away black money is involved here , and it’s just the beginning of corruption , for the very team Anna who are against it from the day one. So whereas the team heading , I hoped that team Anna would support an existing party and sign a memorandum from them before campaigning for them , and staying completely out from this system , which I feel would have been very nice. Mr Arvind Kejriwal , I have forwarded a mail regarding him to my friends in contact, he looks a clean man to me , with good intentions . He left his IRS service on the peak of his career when he was the joint commissioner Income Tax , Delhi region . If he wanted he could have made a good fortune , or for that matter IIT Kanpur where he was getting good placements abroad , he choose to stay back and join civil services.
    Personally I have spoken my heart out, and I hope team Anna and team will inspire people and choose the right people for the job, rather than becoming part of the corrupt system .
    Jai hind.

    • Yes Nishant. I agree. But it’s a tough task. No one doubts kejriwal’s credentials but his game plan may be gaining personal power. There are rifts within the team and many of arvinds former supporters and friends have expressed doubt. That worries me. I think rooting out corruption is about establishing efficient well managed systems and punishing offenders at the same time. Lokpal only addresses one side and creates another bureaucracy with potential for corruption. Every nation has corruption at the top end of politics and underhand dealings. But the citizen is not affected because systems work. They can carry out their daily lives without encountering corruption. That should be our first aim. I think team Anna lost it when they decided to target top politicians and took the dialogue away from the commons mans daily concerns. I hope they find good people who can make a difference and stay clean. Thanks for the heartfelt comments!

  2. I agree. Having more options is certainly a good idea. The options we have right now are wearing thin. For all their faults, these guys at least stand for something. I haven’t made up my personal opinion about them so far, but welcome their willingness to get into the system to correct (!!) it.

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