NY Times: “The anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and his team said Friday that they plan to create a “political alternative” for India in the form of a new political party. While Mr. Hazare said he would not himself enter the general elections in 2014, he pledged to spend the next year and a half campaigning across the country.
Arvind Kejriwal, an activist widely believed to be the main strategist behind Mr. Hazare’s movement, said the party’s name and agenda are open to suggestions from the people.
“The movement against corruption will now take place both outside and inside Parliament,” he said in front of a crowd of thousands in New Delhi. He denounced India’s large parties, including the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bhartiya Janata Party, calling them “corrupt.”
“It is a daring, adventurous move,” said Yogendra Yadav, a political analyst and one of the signatories of a letter encouraging Team Anna to take on the existing political establishment. But it’s not going to be easy, he said, given the scale and complexity of India’s parliamentary elections and the diversity of its electorate.
Transitioning from a single-issue movement to a political party, with positions on a broad spectrum of topics, from national security and terrorism to the economy, is likely to be a complicated process that may test the unity of the group, analysts said.
And there are few such precedents in independent India’s history. Movements in the past have successfully transformed themselves to enter the political mainstream, but they have been based on religion or ethnicity. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, for instance, which governed India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh for a full term of five years, started as a movement for the rights of India’s so-called “backward” classes.
It will be very tough for a non-regional, non-ethnic, non-caste group to replicate the success of Mayawati’s party with a policy issue like corruption, said E. Sridharan, a political analyst in Delhi. “Team Anna has a diffused constituency. They don’t have a ready-made, mobilizable base,” he said, attributing the movement’s rise to prominence to an urban population and a sympathetic media.”
- Team Anna to call off fast on Friday (thehindu.com)
- Indian activist Hazare to end hunger strike (thehimalayantimes.com)