India Insight

Kejriwal 2.0 not enough to change India’s political landscape

It wasn’t long ago that social activist Arvind Kejriwal called India’s parliamentarians “rapists, murderers and looters“. After making no bones about his hatred for India’s politicians during his anti-corruption movement, the former Team Anna member may soon be breaking bread and rubbing shoulders with the targets of his scorn now that he has decided to enter politics.

Kejriwal’s first test could be the assembly elections in Delhi next year. Will his rhetoric translate into votes? Will his party succeed in overthrowing a state government that has been in power for nearly 15 years in the capital? (Please participate in our poll on Arvind Kejriwal. Our question: will his new party be able to make a political impact? At the moment, “yes” votes outnumber “no” votes by nearly two to one.)

If you go by his “vision document“, the idea of a government run by the people gives an impression that parliamentary democracy is somehow a different thing. The former Magsaysay Award winner wants citizens to make decisions on budget, commodity prices and lawmaking. While there is no doubt that his ideas hint at a disorganized system of governance, it’s a college student’s version of idealism and it won’t transform India’s government.

It’s premature to dismiss his party, but his promise of passing the Jan Lokpal anti-corruption bill within 10 days of being elected sounds ignorant. The bill has been pending for decades, leading me to wonder what secret ace Kejriwal is carrying up his sleeve.

We don’t know how many candidates Kejriwal’s party will field, or how aware they are of parliamentary procedure — including knowing how many people you need present to pass bills. How will they work with belligerent opponents? Will he bypass parliament all together and seek popular referendums on bills? Maybe he’ll revisit the constitution?

Why Team Anna’s political plunge deserves India’s vote

Members of Team Anna, the group whose anti-corruption mission last year became one of India’s biggest social movements, will form a political party to try to fix the system from the inside.

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.

Why is Team Anna targeting the PM?

A combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he would quit politics if charges of corruption in allocating coal blocks, levelled against him by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption team, are proved.

Singh has been criticised in the past for not doing enough to curb corruption in the government, but the one thing that has never been questioned, even by his detractors, is his integrity.

So why is Team Anna going after Singh? Especially since the allegations are based on a federal auditor’s draft report in which there is no direct proof of corruption or gains made by the prime minister.