Team Anna is not averse to joining politics. In all likelihood it could come up with a people’s front as the third alternative to the Congress and the BJP before the 2014 general elections. It’s not a bad idea. The country needs respite from both the parties and its politics a breath of fresh air, in terms of new faces, new ideas and new dynamism.
The anti-corruption movement provides a strong platform for the launch of a new party, though it cannot be the singular column propping a political outfit. With Anna Hazare as its face, it carries some credibility, at least in certain urban pockets. If Baba Ramdev pitches in with his rural support base then the proposed front could pose a challenge to the established national parties such as the Congress and the BJP. It might not win seats, but it would make enough of a difference to the two main parties to send a scare.
“…Candidates will come out from among the people who are agitated with existing political parties. A non-Congress, non-BJP front will emerge made up of these candidates. Team Anna will support them…There’s going to be a revolution in 2014. It’s not going to be about change of party or change of face. It’s going to be about changing the system. Our movement has raised some fundamental questions in the country on our political system,” prominent member of Team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal, told a television channel recently.
Baba Ramdev, too, has made it clear that he will decide on contesting the 2014 general elections depending upon the success of his proposed agitation in August. Though his primary focus so far has been black money, he has been clever enough to touch upon a wide range of issues. He has been speaking about farmers and issues related to tribals and other sections off and on. Though both the groups operate in separate spaces, their political aspirations converge. It won’t be a surprise if Team Anna and Baba Ramdev join hands to form a political party.
However, there’s a yawning gap between launching a party and making it a successful one. At the level of ideas a political outfit with a moral message makes sense. Translating it into a rough and ready electoral machine is where the challenge lies. The Congress still ticks despite its truncated influence because it was born out of a movement with high goals and had managed to reach all nooks of the country much before it took the shape of a political party. It had the luxury of time to grow which the BJP has not. But the latter has the backing of an organisation, the RSS, which goes back a long way.
Both the parties have readymade bases and assured vote banks on the basis of ideology, however loose that might be. This is the case with all other political parties too. Team Anna has not moved beyond its singular obsession – corruption. Not much is known about its world view, its position on other issues of national and global import. Before launching a political party, it has to work out its ideology. That is where the challenge lies. The same is the case with Baba Ramdev. He has been talking about everything in abstraction, not specifics.
There is great risk involved in forming an ideology. In the fluid social and economic climate of our times, there can be no single great line of thinking that addresses the aspirations and insecurities of all sections of people. Ideology means automatic exclusion of some. Will the Team Anna-Baba Ramdev combination be able to manage the impossible? It seems difficult at this juncture. But it would be great if it applies its mind to that. The political class is too busy protecting its own selfish interest to think of new ideas. It has to come from new forces.
In all probability, both the teams will keep the heat going till 2014. They will try to hog public attention through aggressive posturing and shocking claims about men in high offices. The game of fasts and allegations will continue till they force the government into a wrong move. Kejriwal made clear as much.
“The next elections will turn into a movement. The movement on the streets will enter Parliament. We are part of this movement on the streets. In the next year and a half, a leader will emerge who will become the alternative,’’ said Kejriwal.
It’s time to wait and watch how things unfold.