Dear Sir/Madam/Rahul Gandhi,
a) Last time I checked, we live in a democracy—even if theoretically—and anyone can join politics at any time they wish to.
b) Team Anna doesn’t strike to me as someone who would need to have/do things at the back of their mind or stage.
c) If you always knew, why don’t you get a parrot, lay a carpet, sit at Juhu Chaupati and start telling people their fortune. If things go the desired way, you might as well have to look for alternate professions post-2014… why not start early and beat the competition?
Coming to the point…
Same is the way for Team Anna. Neither is it possible nor it is expected of them to solve every problem in a day, and I hope they don’t make an attempt at it and go for a crash landing. But one thing that is very much doable and will be a big step towards addressing all the problems at once is fielding educated, credible and capable candidates selected via a fully transparent democratic process—not by appointing a handpicked few from the faces we already know from India Against Corruption or otherwise.
I would even go further and take the liberty of suggesting how to do that. First the launch of the party should not be in affiliation with any of the existing ones, none! Newer standards are required to be set, people need to learn to expect more and better from their leader as much as they need to believe that such leaders can be a reality. First, I don’t doubt for even a second in the existence of such credible candidates in every part of India. The party needs to surface them and provide them a platform and below is one way that I think it can be done:
- Invite applications from all the 543 constituencies, set the minimum bar for education at graduation, and the applicants should not have any criminal history
- Every applicant should form a team of his own of 3–5 members from different backgrounds, possessing working knowledge of administration and finance at the very least
- Give them sufficient time, 2–5 months to research in their constituency and focus just on their constituency
- Ask them to submit the application mentioning top 5 problems of their constituency, their views and solution approach for those, a charted roadmap of how and how much of these can be tackled over a period of five years and what all funding in approximation would be required for that
- Go through these, do the shortlisting, meet them, talk to them, discuss, dissect, improvise, improve, learn from them, groom them and then make the top ones from all the constituencies available on the website for people to view and debate over, give the seat to the best candidate from each constituency (no, not the online or SMS voting, this is not a Miss Popularity contest. Let the party collectively take a call)
- Irrespective of whom you select, ask and convince the other applicants from the constituency to work with him towards the election
Similarly, have a larger team of people at the national level with experts and advisers from every important field. Let them have a go at defining the party’s vision for the nation and for every ministry. Make an attempt at something like the shadow government that Obama had during the presidential nominations of 2008.
Let the candidates be the differentiating parameters and USP of the party and everything else will follow. Go the Apple and Google way: develop the products, users do come. Focus on the issues, solutions and the party, and the votes and seats would come.
With two years to go before the elections in 2014, you have the time to have created by then a brilliant set of ideas for the nation by the people who care and wish to contribute. Even if you lose drastically, you would have changed the playing field and raised the bar for the existing political crop to match up to.
Yes I sound very much like a corporate guy but the current chaos model of politics does not seem to be working, so why not take a lesson from the corporates and give it a try. If it fails, it fails; this country has withstood 6 decades of clueless experimentation, it can bear another. Some plan and organization is a definite improvement on the status quo.
Funding? Yes, let us know what exactly you plan and ask for contribution. If we like, we’ll contribute. This is a country of 1.2 billion and many large corporates, I guess it’s time for the advent of funded election campaigns rather than those run by the black money. Nobody here makes a qualm in admitting that elections can’t be won without money; just maintain the transparency in where the money is coming from and where it’s going.
Meanwhile to the 1.2 billion brethren, some do’s and don’ts:
- This is not Anna’s political party, it’s our chance to redeem ourselves from the incompetent, infertile and vote-bank-based political culture, and to germinate Issue Based Politics in India. This is probably a chance that we have got sooner than we all expected and be sure that we are not going to get any other any time soon if this fails. So it is as much our responsibility to understand them, keep them from going haywire and educate those around us by getting the word out, as it is of the Team Anna
- Keep the expectations real and don’t think of it as the panacea of all ills around, treat it the way it is, a considerable step towards redefining the way leadership and politics is in India
- Contribute financially as much as and if you can, if they ask for it
- Will the party eat into BJP’s votes? Yes!
Will the inevitable happen and Congress return to power in 2014? Yes (in my view) and, Yes, even if Modi is at the helm.
Do we then blame Team Anna and the new party at that time? NO!!
BJP is not the same opposition on the ground as it is in your minds with Modi at the throne. The party has not had a single new idea since Jesus walked on water. They don’t even have an internal clarity about any issue of national importance let alone educate the country about these. BJP is not the long term solution you are wishing for, it is just escapism from the Congress. They are headed for defeat in 2014, Modi or No Modi; it would be wrong if we axe something good in its nascent phase for something ineluctable and obvious.
- Winning is not the only way to make a change, remember this if Team Anna doesn’t emerge as major political force in 2014. They would have marked their presence and defined the path that is to be traded. Don’t lose hope and support.
This country deserves a better class of leaders and you have to start expecting that to have them.
I would close with a dialogue from Aaron Sorkin’s TV series West Wing, “You should back the candidate who should win, not the one who could win.”
P.S.: If your comment is, “You are naïve, delusional or over-optimistic,” I already know that.
If you wish to tell me I am no one to tell them or you, what and how to do, OR how dare I say Modi won’t win—I totally care!
If you wish to crack a joke about how obsequious a Congress agent I came out as, or if you wish to offend me with some sexual innuendo involving Rahul Gandhi and me—let’s pretend it was hilarious and move on!
But if you believe this is an important topic to further the discussion on, or if you have some ideas to add or alter, drop in a comment below and let’s have a go at it.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s personal views.