Charging the government with “stonewalling” their demand for an effective Lokpal, social activist Anna Hazare and his three colleagues called off their fast here on Friday with a call for public support to take the anti-corruption movement from “the streets to Parliament.”
Announcing the decision to take its plunge into electoral politics, Team Anna said it was a logical culmination of its struggle. Mr. Hazare, however, made it clear that he would not launch a party or contest elections.
On the tenth day of his fast, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal gave a call for Sampoorna Kranti (total revolution). “It would not be a party but an ‘andolan’ [movement] without a high command. People will select the candidates. We will go the farmers, to the youth and the unemployed, go around the country asking people about issues plaguing them and their solutions. They will decide the manifesto.’’
Admitting that at this stage what the India Against Corruption planned to do was “no more than a broad vision,” Mr. Kejriwal said their aim was not to just win elections but to challenge all political parties. “We will put all the donations received and expenses on the website and challenge other parties to do the same.”
Reacting to the move, Congress, however, said Team Anna’s decision was a face saver to end the fast as the issues raised by the activists were “completely hollow” in substance. “This move is not about capturing power but about changing the nature of State power,” Team Anna said in a declaration. “Our objective is to provide a political alternative that will be realised through an electoral revolution to democratise and decentralise power and make power structures transparent and accountable to people.”
Buoyed by what they called an overwhelming public response in favour of their decision, Team Anna members said having exhausted all options they chose the path of electoral politics. They would be happy to change their decision if before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections Parliament passes the Jan Lokpal Bill and laws on the Right to Reject and Recall and empowers Gram Sabhas under the Panchayati Raj Act.
Justifying the move, Mr. Hazare said, “Those who are now questioning our intentions had earlier asked us to first get elected to the Lok Sabha if we wanted to raise these issues. Now why they are raising questions?......it was when General (retired) V.K. Singh and other eminent citizens appealed to us to break our fast and provide an alternative that we decided to drop the ‘anshan’.”
Mr. Hazare said he would travel across the country to awaken the people on the plan to give a political alternative.