Why Team Anna’s political plunge deserves India’s vote
The move follows the group’s latest and perhaps least effective hunger strike in New Delhi to try to force the government into accepting their demand of creating an anti-corruption ombudsman post. Such a move looks unlikely at best.
With signs of agitation fatigue among the public and a government refusing to play ball, the movement led by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare has decided to provide a “political alternative”. Hazare on Monday officially disbanded the team to pave the way for the formation of this as yet unnamed party.
Panelists on TV debates accuse them of being naïve because Indian politics dictate that they will need huge sums of money (of which a substantial portion is “black money”) and vast political connections if they want to win elections.
The risk of failure may be huge, but even the improbable vision of people voting en masse for someone running on an anti-corruption plank rather than on caste, community, subsidies and reservations is tempting.
If one election prompted Anna’s armchair supporters to get on their feet and march, electoral victory — however elusive — might not be the point.
Such a public showing could force other politicians to turn from populism to effective governance.
Even without a parliament seat, the political movement could inspire idealistic youths to join politics, according to political scientist Yogendra Yadav.
The real struggle will come in the minutiae of party organisation — raising funds that aren’t bribes, “donations” or other shady arts of persuasion, selecting the right candidates, keeping themselves free of corruption, and creating a manifesto on a host of other issues.
The group should not fear the unknown. If they play their cards right, they could change the political fabric of the country. After all, they did manage to inspire the notoriously indifferent middle class into coming out on the streets in 2011.
And what if Team Anna becomes just another well-meaning movement which failed to read the political pulse and eventually faded away? There would be no loss, no gain.
Team Anna has much to lose, but the country has more to gain.