Whose vote bank will Team Anna eat into?

BJP has to seriously rethink its strategy if it wants to win the next election.

Saswat Panigrahi

Political parties must now be a worried lot as Team Anna has announced its plans to make a political debut. But whose vote bank will the anti-corruption group eat into?

Though the two main national parties – the Congress and the BJP – have welcomed Team Anna’s new move, both are chalking out their respective strategies in advance to deal with the pressure group in the electoral battlefield.

The Congress is worried as the Anna movement is directly targeting the party and its government. Anna Hazare and his team have been fighting for a strong Lokpal Bill. The team has leveled allegations of corruption against as many as 15 Union Ministers in the UPA-2 government, among whom most are Congress men. They have demanded setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the charges. But so far, the Congress and the UPA government have remained unmoved.

On corruption allegations against the ministers, the UPA government and the Congress party have continued to maintain a stoic approach by calling the allegations “wild” and “baseless”. On Lokpal, the government and the party have rather chosen to remain defiant. The UPA government has passed a cosmetic Lokpal Bill in the Lok Sabha, where it has the numbers. But when the bill came to the Rajya Sabha, the government ensured voting was not held. By doing so, the Congress-led UPA has made its intentions clear - it is not bothered about reining in corruption.
Come election, Team Anna will go to people to send the message across. And this is no good news for the opposition BJP either. The BJP has partially failed to put a corruption-tainted UPA government on the mat. While the saffron party has said that Team Anna cannot be an alternative to it but still, the party is worried as it thinks that the pressure group is eating into much of its anti-Congress space.

The Congress party is a master of strategy. The grand old party knows how to shoot down Team Anna. Moreover, the Congress is aware that it has a bigger stake in rural pockets than urban, as the educated middle class normally votes for the BJP and its allies. It is also a fact that the educated middle class has been inspired by the Team Anna movement.

With Team Anna hijacking the campaign theme of the BJP, the saffron party is facing a perceived threat from the pressure group. Team Anna’s political venture is likely to cut into urban support pockets of the BJP rather than the Congress.
Despite this, Team Anna will be a toned down version of a political party. They might even lose their deposits in most of the constituencies. Because, running a political party is no child’s play. The Indian National Congress was founded in 1885 as a movement to fight against the British rule. It was registered as a political party in 1947. Similarly, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was formed in 1951 by legendry Syama Prasad Mookerjee. Later, it was renamed as the BJP in 1980. It took decades for the Jan Sangh to transform into a full-fledged political movement.

In sharp contrast, Team Anna lives in a utopia world. “People will select the candidates. They will decide the manifesto,” Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said.

Team Anna which was denigrating the politicians and political parties has now preferred to dive into politics. Without a clear cut idea and agenda, the road ahead for the pressure group hazy. Anna’s party has yet to born. But the BJP has to seriously rethink its strategy if it wants to win the next election.

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