Today, India’s corruption movement died a tragic death. As a result the strong despondency came to the public’s way. However the end also brought a new hope. The movement this time last year was termed as ‘India’s Arab Spring‘ had brought the Indian government onto their knees due to overwhelming public support, it had got. Today, when this 10 day fast ended, the countrywide support hardly came. The media played for the government. They attacked the movement, tried to divide the team. Under instruction from govt., there was no coverage of the movement. The movement just limped on right from the start.
Kiran Bedi, the social activist gave her opinion after it came to end saying that the country needs both – a social movement and an alternative for voters. She definitely concludes it rightly. But now someone will be very brave to think of a movement in India anytime soon. The new promise is all about to create a credible political alternative by floating a party and clean the politics from the current family owned parties funded by corporates and foreign countries alike selecting candidates based on loyalty. For the existing parties, the good of the country, governance does not matter and a schism now exists between the public and the politicians. Can this development herald a new dawn for democracy? The way the movement has gone and died, the hope to die and wither remains more of a possibility rather than setting it as an example for all the world.
What are the challenges for the next task?
- Setting the Agenda – manifesto – Will the party be left or right of centre or lurch like the other parties at present who do not know whether any policy is in line with their principles or not. The suggestions can come through internet participation via some forums on all kind of issues. This collection of issues or people’s needs will allow to build a people’s manifesto.
- Selecting the right candidates. Presumably the candidates may be chosen by electorates before the election. But how the public will interact with the party? Will the party be going to the public before selecting the candidates and afterwards. Using actively the forums, websites (facebook, twitter etc) on internet, etc. will help but it will need lots of volunteers. In the absence of funds, the volunteers recruitment and retaining their enthusiasm will determine the fate of this political party.
- How to fund the party – Can the party afford just funding from individuals when other well funded parties will be able to spend as much as they like due to non-reforms of election commission. In any case, the transparency of party funding will need all received payments to become visible to all people.
- Transparency will mean – not only keeping the accounts of all expenses and be able to explain all charges levelled by opponents who not only would want to divide the party but undermine it at all costs. So, how to fight and respond to the charges immediately will mean a slick decision making without dithering and conveying it to media without delay.
- The expenditure on media can’t be afforded, so how the media should be courted and used. The abusive attitude towards un-cooperative media in general can’t be the norm. The media will sing for the party who pays them and of whom they are afraid to go against to write or say. So, here also volunteers and internet will be crucial.
- There has to be a hierarchy within a party. All can’t be equal. If one wants to be independent, they have to leave the party. The discipline and saying the same thing from same hymn sheet will be needed for all stake holders of the party. It had become increasingly difficult with the movement.Alliances with other similar interest parties should be decided by the party management and everybody should be prepared to go with the party line and not decide to appear with another party member based on individual whim unmindful of the consequences for the party.
- Of course, the success of the party will not only need good running of the party but on creating a distinction between the other parties. It means the need to highlight what the new party offers and other parties do not. One can be critical of others but to what level one should fall when criticising an opponent? The decency maintained while criticising gives a lasting respect but it does not guarantee a success. So, a careful thought will be needed as unrestrained criticism of others will not help and create goodwill.
I think the new party should be called ’Nirmal Dal’ to reflect its clean credentials with running water as a party symbol. At this juncture, the success of the party looks impossible given the party funds dependence on individuals alone. The funding, perhaps, can come from individuals in two ways – one those who want to pay off one time only and the others who want to make a commitment by paying every month via their bank like for a union in an organisation. The electoral reforms will remain elusive given the current parties may not be keen to fight with minimum funds and to recall the corrupt parliamentarian. So, the public support will be needed to build the pressure. Also a consensus should be built with other parties about it.
The recipe for the success will keep on evolving but how should the party diminish the doubts about its success, raise the enthusiasm of the public and retain it. It will be difficult if the success is not big. Usually nobody comes first the very first time they compete. It needs patience. Will this party show that willingness to adopt and become not reactive like at this movement if the instant success eludes it? So, many questions are there, only time will tell, if this movement will be able to create a big enough countrywide machinery and offer the elusive real corruption free democracy to India.