The erstwhile Team Anna, as they were collectively called, was a group of highly educated social activists, who had been raising their voice against the corrupt practices of the government. Their main weapons were non-violent ways such as fasting and filing PILs in the Supreme Court against the government. They were getting a good response especially from the youth, i.e. college going students and the recently employed who desired to live in an efficient and corruption free country. The support, in terms of physical presence at fasting venues was huge until last year. But due to the overuse of fasting as a weapon of protest and also the government alleged intervention in broadcasting of the agitation through the media, the charm and appeal was gradually fading away. This time the likes of Arvind Kejriwal, a diabetic, were on fast. However, despite being highly respected among the youth for his sacrifices like getting out of lucrative IRS career, he was not able to garner enough physical support.
The team thus obviously had to do something to pump life into this movement, which led to the decision of formation of a political party. The wisdom behind it is still questioned, among supporters and non-supporters alike. Anna Hazare with his team has decided to get into the dirty, muddy world of Indian politics. Quite, a remarkable turn of events indeed though not utterly unpredicted. And if a Mulayam Singh, the Thackeray clan, Ram Vilas Paswan and such others can carve out political careers for themselves by establishing a party of their own, winning seats and whipping emotions through a political rhetoric, why should anyone deny the same right to a Anna Hazare or an Arvind Kejriwal? After all, none can accuse them of narrow political ambitions (at least, not yet) and many would like to see them succeed in their crusade against corruption.
However, such is the dark reality of Indian elections that clean candidates and clean politics have rarely made any impact on the Indian political scene. More often than not, the incorruptibility of electoral candidates has gone against them in an environment reeking of corruption and caste-based politics. Clean candidates rarely win because they never promise to return favours and expect people to vote on principle. It is precisely because of this polluted environment that large sections of the population feel apathetic towards voting and complain about the absence of acceptable alternatives. With Team Anna having announced a direct entry into politics, that excuse now stands annulled. The masses have a real choice at their hands.
Will this movement charge up the 2014 electoral battle and draw the youth and the middle class to the polling booths in the same large numbers as it did unexpectedly in August 2011? Will this movement accelerate the cleaning up of the Indian electoral system in realistic terms with the support of a larger section of civil society and eminent people from all fields? All of this depends on the young brigade of Team Anna and on how the youth respond to their call. Right now, people seem to be charged up they have something new to work for rather than the indefinite fasts which were increasingly becoming routine.
With this new avatar, Team Anna can now return to setting about their game plan, reflect, configure and strategise their future actions. All the more owing to the fact that India’s most-promising anti-corruption movement was tragically trapped into a dead-end and had started dissipating and losing strength rapidly.
The decision to consider a political option will take the movement back to the grassroots in its worthy crusade against the stench of corruption in India. The burden of making it a success rests on the youth. Our elders believed in the likes of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Kapil Sibal, Digvijay Singh and we did not really get what we wanted. It is time for us to choose our band of politicians. Will we make a better choice than they did? Only time will tell.
The main problem faced by them is to choose clean candidates for their political party and arranging huge funds required to fight an election and also on the number of seats they want. The selection, the money involved, the lack of political experience and ensuring that the candidates which win remain true to their work are some great challenges ahead of Kejriwal. If he can manage all of this, it will really be deemed a herculean achievement. Running a political party is no easy thing and getting it to become successful is the toughest possible activity in a country divided on the basis of caste, creed, religion and region. And here votes can be bought by virtue of bottles of country liquor. If they fail to achieve the same, there shall be no difference between them and those they are fighting against. Hence, it will definitely be an extremely difficult task. To convey to the people their credibility and then converting it into real votes is the goal and we can only put our trust in them so that they succeed.
The recent revelations done by CAG regarding the Coal Scam involving the Prime Minister gave teeth to them and theÂ decisionÂ to Gherao the residences of the PM and Nitin Gadakari Â is seen as a political as well as their earlier activist-like move. They are trying to make inroads by being the representatives of the people. Let us hope they achieve what they have been fighting for so that they can purge the country of its evils.