Indian Decade

‘Team Anna’ Declares Political Ambitions

Can Anna Hazare provide a political alternative to the people of India?

“Team Anna” has announced it will end its ongoing agitation tomorrow after ten days of protests that have failed to extract a single concession from the government or even an appeal for them to end their fasting. 

More importantly, Anna Hazare and his top aide Arvind Kejriwal spoke of their political ambitions for the first time earlier today, asking their supporters nationwide to answer a simple yes-or-no question: should Team Anna provide a political alternative to the people of India?

“Things will not change till we change the people in Parliament,” Hazare told a large crowd of supporters earlier today. “There is no harm in making a new political party,” Hazare also said while stopping short of committing Team Anna for formally establish one. The anti-corruption activist did explicitly state that he will not personally seek office.

Hazare was honest about the uphill battle his supporters faced in entering politics. For one thing, Hazare noted, their candidates would be contesting elections against much better funded candidates from the established political parties. He also emphasized the difficulty of finding truly uncorrupted candidates to run on their behalf.  

Hazare shared his tentative roadmap for his upcoming political role. He said the political alternative suggested by him could work only if the power is decentralized and there are at least 40 per cent 'honest' candidates in parliament, implying that the percentage of honest candidates in the present parliament, according to him, is much smaller. “When this new party’s people become legislators only then will the Lokpal be created,” Hazare said. On his point about the need to decentralize power, Hazare underlined the need for strengthening the ‘gram sabhas’ (village councils), saying “The country lives in villages. We have to mobilise gram sabhas for the political formation to be a success.” 

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Critics of Team Anna were quick to seize on the announcement as vindication for what they have been stating all along: that the group harbored political ambitions. Minutes after Hazare’s announcement Congress Party leader and Union minister Ambika Soni told the local press that she was glad Team Anna’s political intentions were now out in the open. "We were saying this from first day that Team Anna inspired by politics,” Soni said before adding, “It's good that their intentions are out in the open. It's best they come out and be part of the same system they abuse always.”