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Apolitical in a political game never works!

Having spent the last three days in the power capital of the country and even visiting the parliament, the interactions I have had with different political friends across political parties on the ‘Anna Phenomenon’ got me thinking that at the end many believe that the politicians have won because Team Anna fell under the pressure of its own weight of expectations. Most of the politicians in particular Congress and in the shadow BJP (who were trying to capitalise on the Anna wave and score brownie points in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls) played the wait and watch game as Team Anna played out its own ‘Nautanki’ according to many of them. And when Team Anna changed their stance from apolitical to political that was enough ammunition for the political class to now sow the seeds to disintegrate the movement. In fact the political class did not have to do much, supporters of Team Anna automatically divided themselves on the apolitical and political front. Because quite simply put the words ‘politics’ and ‘politicians’ have become bad words in the vocabulary of most Indians. But we cannot deny the fact that at the end we are a democratic nation governed by ‘politics’ and ‘politicians’ who are key players in the role of the governance of our country. Today, if we have politicians who are corrupt and criminals, they have survived for many years because we have allowed them to continue to win elections after elections, because we are no longer governed by patriotism to save our nation from external and internal evils, but instead we are burdened by our need to survive and also partake in corruption – so we adopt a live and let live attitude or like the term many Indians tell fellow Indians –  ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude.

Anna Movement touched a cord with the middle-class people who have over the years been the real victim of the oppression of corruption. People came out in large numbers only because they had hope that a change would happen (as revolts for change were also happening in parts of Middle East) and because it was largely apolitical. But the euphoria (just a like an infatuation) always die out and Team Anna assisted the people in losing hope once again by tinkering on the border of political preference, fast threats and demand for their version of the Lokpal Bill without any changes. Strangely, while they wanted to bring practically every government agency under the Lokpal, they pussy-footed around when it came to bringing NGOs taking government funding or foreign funding under the Lokpal (you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know why Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal were opposed to it).

I also stood by Team Anna on the Anti-Corruption crusade, but I did not agree with the apolitical stance they adopted at the start, because at some point of time it would have had to turn political. I remember even talking to Dinesh Waghale (IAC Core team member from Goa) and telling him, your confrontational strategy is wrong, you are spending too much time fighting with the government, but you are failing to capitalise on the people (who form the actually strength of the Anti-Corruption movement). But, Waghale at that point of time could not look at the situation from above, since just like all the Team Anna members they were swept by the fervor and most of all people adulation. They were more akin to an Ostrich that had it head stuck in the ground instead of being Eagles and watching the situation very closely from above and then taking appropriate decisions. Also they attained a similar habit of the Congress party they targetted – that of ‘High Command’ or ‘Core Team’ will decide. Members like Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhusan and Kiran Bedi completely indirectly hijacked the movement with Anna becoming a mere mascot (people always have a sympathetic acceptance of an octogenarian – week and fragile – fighting the powerful corrupt politicians) but the strings were controlled by the above mentioned three and they became demi-gods in their own eyes and in the eyes of some of their followers.

If we have to change anything in government, then, the only way were going to have a real revolution to over throw the corrupt politicians is when good people stand for elections and people vote with their conscience and not because of ‘vote for money’. In fact Anna also expressed the similar apprehension saying we need lots of money to fight elections. And that is where the entire movement of Team Anna gets defeated, because if after all these months of anti-corruption fight, if you still think people will chose money over better candidates; then you are telling the people who looked up to you, that you don’t trust them to vote with their conscience and that is an absolute insult. It is a fact that so far most elections have been fought on grounds of money that’s because people always had to be stuck with corrupt candidates with money as no clean candidates ventured into politics. But if an alternative to corrupt candidates was provided then people will be forced to chose better elected representatives. And then if they chose the corrupt and criminal politicians to represent them, then they have no other option but to live with it.

In Goa, the anti-corruption endeavor of the people worked well. People came out to vote in large numbers. And many of the corrupt politicians of the Congress ruling dispensation were shown the door. People took the money but voted the corrupt Congress out. In fact, half of the elected representatives in the Goa Assembly were new faces and no political baggage of corruption, yet with them. However, I would like to add that the new BJP government while appearing to be singing the zero-corruption mantra, it is choosing to be selectively corrupt and is treading the same path as the Congress on issues of mining, casinos and favoring party loyalists for important roles in the government. But having said that it was a start by the people of Goa and if Parrikar Team goes the Congress way, they will also be shown the door.

Therefore Team Anna’s decision to go political to me is a good decision; simply because if you want to fight the politicians then you have to fight them on the ground where the game is played and that is in the elections. And that is where we have to defeat the corrupt. If people want a change then they will support clean candidates. But if Team Anna opts for the questionable candidates, or aligns with the current national political parties, then people will lose faith in such movements in the country again. So they must contest and if they win, they must take the stand to be different (remain in Opposition if need be but be alone). We must start somewhere and encourage better candidates to come forward. It is there were the good of our future lies…Jai Hind.

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