NEW DELHI: Taking the political plunge, Team Anna on Friday moved towards forming a party to fight the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but Ms Anna Hazare made it clear that he will not launch a party or contest elections.
Ending their ten-day fast at Jantar Mantar, the team declared that “people” will decide on their candidates and fund their elections.
“We will have to throw this government out. It is a long fight. This is not a party. It will be a movement from the streets to Parliament.
“Parliament has to be purified. There will be no high command. People will decide the candidates and they will fund it,” Team Anna member Mr Arvind Kejriwal announced to the cheering supporters.
He said they will not draft manifesto in air-conditioned rooms but would go around the country to know about the difficulties of people.
Friday’s declaration by Team Anna marks a transformation of the civil society movement which started as an anti-corruption crusade 16 months ago for a Lokpal bill and ending up with plans for a political run.
The fast, which was ended by former Army chief, Gen V K Singh giving coconut water to Mr Hazare and others, was called off in the light of government steadfastly refusing to enter into a dialogue with them on their demand for Lokpal or a special investigation team of retired judges to probe allegations against 15 Union ministers.
Endorsing Mr Kejriwal’s declaration for a political alternative, Mr Hazare said he will not launch a party or fight elections.
“I will go around the country for the next one and half years to give an alternative. We have another two years left (for the elections) and I will awaken the people. I am confident that people will support the alternative,” he said.
Justifying formation of a political outfit, Mr Hazare said that earlier when they started the movement political parties taunted them saying you contest elections and come to Parliament.
“Now when we announce that we are taking the political plunge the same parties are feeling threatened,” he said.
Though Mr Kejriwal did not use the word political party in relation to launch of the movement, at another place he said that if a party has to be launched, then they have to decide what structure it should have.
“Our aim is not to take power but to go inside Parliament and transfer power to villages, cities and to the people. It does not mean an end to street protests. The movement will continue inside Parliament as well as streets,” he said.
Raising the question as to where the money would come from, Mr Kejriwal answered himself saying “money is not needed. People will give money”.
The highlight of the day was Gen Singh’s address to the rally when he said governance has come to an end and has become directionless.
“I thank Anna Hazare and others for heeding to our appeal and ending the fast. Other than the big issue of corruption, the issues which are concerning the nation are black money, law and order, weakening rupee and inflation. There is no governance and it has become directionless,” he said.
Mr Hazare said he was encouraged by the fact that people like Gen Singh have extended support to the civil society movement.
In his speech, Mr Kejriwal said they would not go for the “movement” if the Congress passed the Lokpal bill, provide for ‘right to recall’ and ‘right to reject’ in the next two and half years.
“We are not here for power. We want Lokpal bill to be passed. If all these are implemented, we will take back our decision,” he said.
Mr Kejriwal said the aim of the movement was not to capture power but to ensure its decentralisation. He also appealed to people who are “suffocated” in parties like the Congress and the BJP to join the movement.
He said the movement is not for just winning elections but to change the system and challenge existing political parties on each and every step.
“We are challenging the high command of parties, if you have the guts to leave the selection of candidates to people, show it,” he said.
Mr Gopal Rai, another Team Anna member who was fasting, said they will not leave any way to fight the system. “If needed, we will fight for Parliament,” he said.