Wake up Team Anna

Published: Wednesday, Aug 08,2012, 13:47 IST
Wake up Team Anna, anna and kejriwal, anna party, kejriwal political party, anna jantar mantar, ibtl column

Anna Disbanded : Team Anna disbanded recently following their announcement that they would dip their toes in the political gutter. Many faithful supporters plummeted into a deep sense of bereavement. I likened it to a massive power failure in India in my last column.

There has been extreme uncertainty regarding the future of the new political party. Their Alternative Political Declaration has been ill thought out and far too emotive. It is clear that it was written fairly rapidly without detailed consultation. The last week has demonstrated Team Anna in a state of disarray.
In short, Team Anna has been disbanded with an uncertain future in a coliseum of back stabbers who have engineered a strategic situation to cause failure. The timing of this decision was extremely poorly thought out. During this period of fasting, support was initially building but had not yet peaked. The public were just about to open their eyes before Team Anna packed up their bags, disbanded and took their cricket bats home. This premature ill thought out decision may prove to be fatal. As the days have gone on, the extent of disarray in Team Anna has become apparent.

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Media Influence : If we assume for argument’s sake that the media are influenced by Congress, it is very worrying that Team Anna was featured in a barrage of articles when the fast ended. Yet, when the fast was ongoing, the mainstream media had severe cramp and any positive coverage was hard to find. As Professor NK Pandey stated recently

When Team Anna fasted at JMantar, media looked other way. When fast failed Team Anna is PrimeTime feature”.
The curious mind therefore questions whether Team Anna has indeed fallen into a trap set out by Congress.

Team Anna Volunteers - Cheated and Disappointed : Over the last twenty four hours, we have seen media articles about the discord within Team Anna itself.

The Economic Times headlined with "Team Anna volunteers feel cheated, disappointed”.

While tucking into a plate full of delicious Indian food, RP Ambedkar. a Delhi resident stated as follows

"People of this country are extremely frustrated and angry. See the number of people coming here,"

The article continued

"I don't know who took the decision," he told ET Magazine a day after Team Anna called off the fast and announced its decision to form a political party.
His colleague also stated "It was too early,”

"Like most volunteers, I am also truly disappointed," says Jayhind Rajput, a medical student from GR Medical College, Gwalior, of the "face-saving exercise".
The most notable paragraph was this

"Whoever took the decision didn't consult the [20-plus-strong] core committee of India against Corruption (IAC). Neither did they consult the volunteers at the site of the fast — some 550 of them, including me. They didn't even brief those who risked their life with the leaders — people who fasted. There were some 350 of them. They didn't even consult the public assembled there," Gupta says.
This was supported by a second report by India Today citing that members had not been consulted regarding the decision. The article cites that the decision was effectively taken unilaterally and conflicted with decisions made at official meetings. Some activists found out from the news channels and were not even informed. The article continued

“ Within hours of the announcement, civil activists, Medha Patka, former Kanataka Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde and Assamese activist Akhil Gogoi joined others in warning against the move, saying it could endanger all future civil society movements! “
I want the opinion of every gram sabha to be sought”

The Daily Mail UK weighed in:

“However, a Twitter post by Arvind Kejriwal confirmed the confusion within their ranks.’It (Team Anna) was formed for Jan Lokpal. That phase is over. New structures (are) being discussed. Preparatory committee (is) being formed,' he tweeted
It continued

If Kejriwal's tweet was an indication that it was he who was steering the transition of the movement into active politics, Hazare's post clearly reflected his dissatisfaction with the decision.

'I will never be part of a political party nor will I ever contest elections. This has been my stand throughout my decades-long career in public service,' he wrote. The blog also ended up questioning the legitimacy of the decision taken by Kejriwal and Co. at Jantar Mantar on Friday.

'Jantar Mantar is not the entire country… there are six lakh villages in India. I want the opinion of every gram sabha to be sought. The same goes for nagar parishads across the country… If they all say that 'yes we need a political alternative', only then should a political party be formed,' Hazare said.
Even former Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde wasn't surprised at Hazare's decision which he said could be prompted by the decision to form a political party.

'The questions he has raised in blogs over the demands of forming a political party are very relevant,' Hegde said. However, he expressed sadness at the disbanding of Team Anna, fearing it could result in bringing the movement against corruption to a halt. 'I feel sorry, for the reason that the movement started by Anna for a strong Lokpal was need of the hour.'

In the event, Arvind Kerjriwal did make a unilateral decision to move into the political arena rapidly, we should ask the following questions

  1. When did he first consider the idea
  2. Why did he consider the idea
  3. Who was he influenced by
  4. Were his motives broadly based on self interest?

India Against Corruption [IAC] Survey Results : In my last column, I wrote about the importance of the IAC survey results. The primary argument from Team Anna’s supporters is that these survey results are irrelevant because online and TV polls support Team Anna’s decision to move into politics. My question is this – how reliable are online/TV polls of organisations that are purported to be aligned to Congress? It is a fact that no one has reviewed the raw data from these polls. Secondly, only a fraction of India’s large population has access to the internet. Don’t the opinions of others count?  We cannot exclude rigged poll voting. After all, Team Anna itself argues that the system is corrupt from head to toe. They could have postponed the decision until they obtained a large sample of reliable public opinion.

It appears that at the time of writing this article, the results of the IAC Survey referred to in my original article not been published on their website. This means that nearly a week later, the IAC survey results are not online and not analysed. That does not match the statement from Anna Hazare

Jantar Mantar is not the entire country… there are more than six lakh villages in India. I want the opinion of every gram sabha to be sought”.

On sending out a query through Twitter, one of their supporters stated that the results would be published within a short time. I was told this

“Have rung #IAC. Will get the information tomorrow as office is closed now & she can't access the info. They will publish it as well”
Then this is the same story I was told last week by a supporter who accused me of spreading hatred by requesting the survey results. Whenever the results do appear in the public eye, it will not change the fact that Team Anna did not stand by their word. Some would argue that this mishap be forgiven but those fighting corruption have a duty to practise the integrity they preach. One cannot just gloss over these issues and pretend they are irrelevant.

Ammunition to the Opposition : Interestingly, the discord within Team Anna has provided ammunition not only to Congress but to its enemies who have come out in their droves. Some may or may not have an axe to grind.

Mumbai-based journalist and Anna Hazare's former blogger Raju Parulekar was featured by UK’s Daily Mail. His main allegation is that Anna Hazare is being influenced by others. Rajeev Dhavan who is a Supreme Court Lawyer threw his wig on the floor and waved his arms while screaming and shouting in the Daily Mail. He exclaimed that Team Anna was a hoax. In the meantime, the Congress mouthpiece NDTV was gleefully claiming whether it was an end of a self proclaimed revolution. The media appear fizzing with enthusiasm in carrying out the last funeral rites of Team Anna.

All Hail for the King of Hot Air : Even the King of Hot Air Lalu Yadav weighed in. The temptation had been too much for him. He too wanted to blow into the funeral pyre. He huffed and puffed

“Taking potshot at Team Anna, he said, "They are not capable of continuing fasting. They fled away from the scene fearing arrest. It is a setback to Ramdev and now he should concentrate on yoga only."
In conclusion, I have demonstrated the sequence of events in a Congress engineered “Divide and Rule”  scenario. They have engineered a fractured state in Team Anna, thereby weakening them and neutralising the threat. Team Anna stands divided now leaving the path open for Congress rule.

Currently, the state of conflict, failure of communication, failure of cohesion has given Congress further ammunition to take advantage of the media. The demonstrated infighting shows Team Anna’s vulnerable side. As the King of Hot Air has demonstrated, an enemy is kicked when he is down. He is kicked again and again until recovery is impossible. It is notable that the King of Hot Air takes a wicked swipe at Baba Ramdev. Of course, all potential threats to Congress and any other parties must is seen to be neutralised in this manner. This mudslinging was inevitable.

In this environment, it is clear that Congress intends on luring an inexperienced political party into politics at their weakest point – with the aim of ensuring they lose the elections, split the vote against Congress and cause further damage to themselves by their lack of popularity.

Graveyard journalism citing the end of Team Anna is not productive for the cause or any political party. Its reputation is currently on the funeral pyre, cleverly placed there by Congress. Unless they can put out this pyre and resurrect themselves by re-grouping, rethinking their strategy and listening to the people - their prognosis is poor.  It is still possible to resurrect Team Anna to be the crusader of corruption and a real threat to Congress. As with all things in life, the window of time is short before their fate is sealed in the vaults of history. Then again, as Winston Churchill once said, “History is written by the victors”. Team Anna should note the wise words “A handful of men, inured to war, proceed to certain victory, while on the contrary, numerous armies of raw and undisciplined troops are but multitudes of men dragged to the slaughter”. [Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus]

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