Anna Hazare and his team announced their intentions to start a political party and take their first steps in politics. They also announced that all four fasting members will end their fast tomorrow at 5pm. This after the government refused to entertain them and did not hold any negotiations. Has Anna abused the ‘fasting’ weapon is a question everyone is asking. Has he? Lets do a strategy analysis and understand what has been going on. Every fast has a motive and hence the fast is timed accordingly.
Anna started his first fast on April 5th, one day after the parliament reconvened after recess. And ended it on April 9th after the government accepted his demands and formed a joint drafting committee. He thus used the opposition pressure in a parliament session as a weapon to get his demands accepted. A very smart move if you ask me. Timing: Parliament IN session. Motive: JanLokpal Bill be passed
After the committee came up with a weak JanLokpal draft, Anna Hazare went on another fast for the 2nd time on August 16. This time again the fast was strategically timed during the Parliament monsoon session to put additional pressure on the government. The fast finally ended on 28th August after Hazare had his way and got a written letter from the Prime Minister stating that his three basic demands will be met. Timing: Parliament IN session. Motive: JanLokpal Bill be passed
All looked perfectly fine and as per plans until here and what happens next is what is interesting.
The lame duck government finally introduced with a weak Lokpal Bill in the Parliament on 27th December. Seeing a useless bill being tabled ,Anna goes to fast for the 3rd time is less than a year! This time however he chooses the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai as the fast venue. What was also different this time was that it was merely a token fast to put pressure on the Parliamentarians debating the LokPalBill in parliament. Anna announced a 3 day fast from the 27th to the 29th December. This fast received a very poor response and Anna called off the fast on the 28th December citing health issues. Timing: Parliament debating the bill. Motive: Put pressure.
It is interesting to note that all three fasts so far have been timed with the Parliament Sessions. The first two being huge successes and things going Anna’s way but the third fast being a big setback. What followed was country wide tours ‘educating’ the masses. Team Anna also campaigned during the UP elections and asked the people to vote for the ‘right’ candidate. The election results however showed that nothing really had changed.
Anna and his team started fasting again for the 4th time in Delhi from the 25th of July demanding that the JanLokpal Bill to be passed. The 10 day fast is supposed to end today at 5 pm. This fast however raises more questions about the team’s objectives than it answers. As we have seen earlier, Anna’s objectives and strategy were very well known in the earlier fasts. What was the objective this time then? The JanLokpal bill being passed? NO! Team Anna might challenge the parliament branding the MP’s as common man’s servants, but even they don’t deny that in the end the bill has to be passed ONLY in the Parliament. Why keep a fast when the parliament is NOT in session? Anna himself answered this question when he announced that he will step into politics. The whole purpose of this fast was to announce a political party. It was NOT a simple agitation but a well planned strategy to fool the public by calling it a ‘fast unto death’ and catching all the media attention. It was a litmus test, probably to understand the public, to understand if Anna Hazare was still in the game or a forgotten name.
Let us now try to understand why the Anna magic has worked so far. When Anna first came to delhi to fast in April last year,there was hardly any media activity around him. All one could see is small snippets and that was it. For the first day,only 150 people were fasting and even that had got the government worried. So what turned this small agitation into a nation-wide one? If you recall,last april was a month when rallies supporting Anna were being held almost every day in every city! The response the crowds gave him was unprecedented! The reason for this support was not the bill he was fighting for. It was the man’s moral ethics. The fact that a 74 year old person was willing to die for the country and that the government was scared of him,with only 150 people by his side made people look him up on google. It struck the right cord with the common man; that here is a man who is willing to sacrifice and who is fasting at 74! Now is not the time to be selfish, but a time to support him. This is what made Anna Hazare a nation-wide figure. It was no strategy. No man can play with the public’s emotions; it is only something as extreme as this that can arouse the public emotion to such levels. Anna Hazare accidently played this card right.
In India, everything related to ‘politics’ is termed as ‘dirty’. Politics is a dirty game is what we hear our elders saying. So when Anna decided to join politics and forming a 4th front, there were obvious extreme reactions from all corners of the country. Some supporting him, some not. What worries me is on what principle is this party based? You cannot have a party based on one bill! A political party is no joke, it involves fund raising, country wide management and what not! We have all witnessed the crowd response to Team Anna over the last 2 fasts. The crowds are NOT coming, the ones who are,are only for Anna Hazare himself. They are coming for the sole reason that this movement is apolitical. They are coming to support an ‘innocent’ movement. Anna paid a heavy price was taking the public for granted last year at the MMRDA grounds. He is doing so once again this time and hence killing a noble cause. Will this movement carry on with the same enthusiasm? Very few believe it will. But one thing is certain,if it does not,then Arvind Kejriwal will be solely blamed for playing the ‘Shakunimama’ and killing the JanLokpal movement.