Team Anna turns left
By Ritu Sharma - NEW DELHI
Published: 05th Aug 2012 08:27:48 AM
Team Anna’s decision to plunge into electoral politics, following a series of low-yield fasts, has received a tepid response, especially from their erstwhile sympathisers like the BJP, RSS and Baba Ramdev. For many the writing on the wall is clear. In this season of U-turns by Team Anna, from apolitical to political, the transition from Right to Left is also complete.
Be its members known for Left affiliations—Prashant Bhushan’s remarks and legal interventions make it more than explicit—or its increasing distance from the original nationalistic diatribe, the now-declared goal of Team Anna’s political project is leaving few doubts about their Left-of-Centre pitch.
The declared goal—as announced on Saturday—is ‘anti-Congress, anti-BJP’, just short of a wish for annihilation of the entire political class as it exists today. Arvind Kejriwal, out of his first 10-day fast, spelt the Team’s political agenda quite categorically—they are to provide “an alternative to the Congress and the BJP’’ ahead of the 2014 elections.
If the Congress was expecting Team Anna to eventually merge with the BJP and lose their crusading identity, they were off the mark; if the BJP was hoping that Anna’s activists would keep raising the temperature against the “corrupt’’ government for them to reap, the saffron party too was woefully off the mark.
The Team, even without its mascot Anna Hazare contesting elections, is now all set to challenge both the national parties—their manifestoes, their candidates, their fat election expenses—with a promise of a political El Dorado at the end of the tunnel. “Consultative democracy’’, “freedom from arbitrary use of state power’’; “equal opportunities’’ and “social justice to last person (not just to the privileged few) “secularism’’ and “peace in internal and external relations’’—a six-point treatise for the revolution and more.
“People who are feeling suffocated in parties like Congress and BJP, should come and join us,” Kejriwal held out an open invitation. “The (political) move is not about power, but about changing the nature of state power (don’t be surprised if you’ve heard similar lines coming out of the Red Corridor). Our objective is to provide a political alternative that will be realised through an electoral revolution.’’
Any doubts about Team Anna’s intention or their leanings were cleared when the likes of V R Krishna Iyer, veteran activist and former Supreme Court judge, marked their presence on Team Anna’s stage a day before Kejriwal made the political announcement. Any discomfort emanating from fellow members like Santosh Hedge or Medha Patkar was decisively ignored. Since the inception of the movement, Team Anna strategically maintained an ambiguity about their political leanings. Taking support from wherever it came and whenever it helped them swell the numbers at their fasting venues, with volunteers from the RSS, free food stalls from Jamiat-e-Islam, followers from trade unions, children from poor Dalit homes, and well-heeled urbanites, and Bollywood celebrities.
When the numbers dipped at the Jantar Mantar, Ramdev was called in with his thousand followers, but when the party was launched, he was nowhere to be seen. Their old supporters like Sri Sri Ravishankar and the yoga guru, fitted nowhere in the new scheme of things. As an observer of the anti-corruption movement puts it, ‘once the brand was established, the political agenda was unveiled’.