In Aravind Kejriwal’s article in The Times of India today there is an unmistakable lament at the movement having lost, not just the direction but, the PR battle too. There are a few reasons:
Carried away by success
When the agitation was launched, it drew unprecedented support from across the nation. For the first time, there was a mass movement against a below-par political class. Team Anna connected with the average Indian like no party ever did. For the first time, ‘people power’ dictated the schedule of Parliament. Anna Hazare became a rock star-like youth icon. There was glee all around at the plight of the all-powerful politician being held to account. But soon, Team Anna got carried away, ironically, by its own success. From being an effective pressure group, the general feeling was that it had become too arrogant to be a super-Parliament.
The frequency of and the force with which Team Anna attacked the Congress gave the impression that this was an anti-Congress, pro-BJP movement. Why Anna was angry with Congress is understandable, but the tone and language that was being used, gave the feeling that this was another political slugfest. Team Anna did little to focus on corruption in BJP-ruled states like Karnataka. Also, the team let itself be used and abused by the political class. The statement, “We will campaign against the Congress” was a huge blunder. Even if Team Anna didn’t mean it, that was a clear political statement.
Holier than thou attitude
The message that was going out was that everyone except members of the anti-corruption movement are corrupt; that only Team Anna has the solution; that Lokpal is the magic wand that will, one fine morning, end all corruption. Lokpal was being made out as a super-powerful authority. While the obsession with Lokpal was disconcerting, the Utopian scenario that was being made out, was too good and unrealistic to believe.
The search for a better system to make the common people’s lives more comfortable hasn’t ended; the campaign has only paused. The search will resume once Parliament reconvenes. Hopefully, before long, we will have a new system that will not only eliminate corruption, most importantly at the lower levels, but also bring in more accountability in the system.
In the meantime, some course correction on the part of Team Anna will be in order.
1) Dispel the perception that Team Anna is anti-Congress and pro-BJP. When all are aiming for a political consensus, the impression that Team Anna itself has a political agenda is self-defeating.
2) Let there be only one spokesperson for the movement. And let that person not make political speeches.
3) Team Anna should realise that Lokpal will be another institution, in addition to many other investigative and quasi-judicial organisations that we already have to check corruption and conduct investigations.
4) The team should also realise that there’s nothing wrong with the laws or institutions that we already have. Where we have failed is in implementation. More than new laws, what we need is a conscientious effort on the part of every one to abide by the rule of law. We need a disciplined society.