‘Anna’ther political party

The inevitable has finally happened. After a year of fasts and making noises the Anna-led civil activists have decided to enter the political arena and actually contest elections. Whatever my feelings about Anna or his methods, this is a welcome move. Their entry into the political fray can only help the Indian political scene.

The road ahead for the fledgling party is long and strewn with pitfalls. The first thing Team Anna needs to do is evolve a political ideology. We do know that they are against corruption, but what else? A single-point agenda is good for a pressure group but not quite good enough for a political party. So it will be interesting to watch the new party as they come up with an ideology that will hopefully set them apart from the rest of the scenery.

Going by their track record, I am not too hopeful. Take for instance that they decided to form a political party based on internet feedback from 5000 Mumbaikars. Hardly a seat winning tally. Then there is their uncompromising stand on the issue of the Jan Lok Pal bill, which begs the question do they know how to create consensus? The top echelons of the party seem to be run by a set of very egoistic personalities who start every conversation with the supreme knowledge that they own the corner called honesty. Any child in a school playground will tell you that such an attitude doesn’t win you friends or, in this case, elections.

The other lesson Team Anna need to learn quickly is that the Internet-savvy are not the electorate. There is a larger India out there and they do not have Facebook accounts. In fact they don’t even have bank accounts. So choosing the Internet as their vehicle maybe a good idea too soon, an idea whose time has not yet come. For example, they intend to choose their candidates over the Internet. This somehow implies that being Internet-savvy makes you a good leader.

Personally I think they have bitten off way more than they can chew.

It is hard to see Team Anna winning much, let alone forming governments. The people of India maybe simple, but they are not dumb and they will not vote for a party that intends to clean up a system without proof that there is a viable alternative.

I would rather have preferred that they stayed as a pressure group and their role in politics should have been limited to endorsing good candidates across party lines. Team Anna could have become the indicator of an electoral candidate’s honesty. They could rate candidates based on the candidate’s personal honesty, the candidate’s commitment to honest governance, the candidate’s track record on keeping electoral promises, etc. Instead Team Anna has chosen the most difficult path to make a difference and the one that will take the longest.

Still, all the best to Team Anna.


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