Yoga guru Ramdev started hunger strike against blackmoney and corruption at Ramlila Ground, New Delhi, just after Anna Hazare called off his agitation. It is noteworthy that this time Ramdev has not only raised the issue of blackmoney but also stressed on immediate formation of Lokpal institution. Setting up a strong and effective Lokpal institution has been a prominent agenda of the movement launched by Anna Hazare and his lieutenants but now when they have discounted protests and demonstrations to achieve their goal, Ramdev found it pertinent to include the issue of Lokpal as a part of his agenda. Cracks in Team Anna became prominent immediately after Anna Hazare ended his fast especially when Arvind Kejriwal, one of the closest lieutenants of Hazare, talked about shunning movement and joining electoral politics. Kejriwal’s announcement could neither impress his close associates nor other members of civil society. After much criticism faced by  Kejriwal and his aides for announcing a political alternative, Ramdev chose to tread cautiously and denied any possibility of floating a political party in near future. However, it is no secret that Ramdev has keenly hinted in the past to form a political party.

Team Anna’s movement could not make any significant impact because it failed to draw much response from opposition parties and the ruling dispensation which strategically decided not to heed to their demands. The government’s game plan to counter Anna’s protest was clear from the statement of Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal who soon after the end of the movement said that there is no possibility of tabling the Lokpal bill in the present session of the Parliament. But when Ramdev started his protest and included Lokpal in his agenda, Bansal budged from his previous stand and said that the anti-graft ombudsman bill could be tabled during ongoing session of Parliament. Is the government working on the strategy not to give an impression that it works under the pressure of Team Anna? Whatever the fact may be, Team Anna’s decision to shun the methods of public protest has no doubt emboldened the confidence level of the government. It is palpable that many of the Congress leaders and Union Ministers are mocking the movement of Baba Ramdev. Mocking a movement on corruption and blackmoney is not only a matter of shame but also raises some serious concerns. Now it is quite clear that all the assurances made by the government to set up a strong Lokpal institution was nothing but just a gimmick. There is an apprehension that the Lokpal will again be tabled on the last day of this session of the Parliament to avoid any debate on it or blocking its passage.

Corruption is being viewed as the biggest problem in the country and the onus lies on the political class to tackle it effectively. This is well known to both- Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. It is also true that the kind of strong and strict Lokpal being demanded by Anna Hazare and Ramdev cannot be acceptable to any political party in present circumstances. It would be better if political parties evolve a consensus on Lokpal bill and give it a form of law and if any lacuna is found in the new law, it could be amended in future. It is a fact that corruption is deep rooted and cannot be overthrown by means of Lokpal alone. To tackle the menace of corruption effectively, both the political class and the common people are required to come forward. It seems that like Team Anna’s movement, Ramdev’s agitation will also fail to leave any impact on the people. It is so because most of the crowd at Ramdev’s protest venue comprises of his own followers. It seems that this crowd would fail to mount pressure on the political parties.

After several cases of corruption surfaced in the second tenure of the UPA, Ramdev and Anna Hazare in the last one and a half year created such an environment in the country against corruption where any opposition party could have tilted the situation to its favour, but neither the BJP nor any other party displayed enthusiasm for this. Main opposition party BJP had fought last general elections on the issue of corruption and blackmoney but it failed to take advantage of the public mood created by the movements of Anna Hazare and Ramdev. On the contrary, the party somehow appeared opposing the strong Lokpal law. The main reason behind it is that the party is itself faced with serious charges of corruption. The way the BJP was under pressure while tackling the charges of corruption against former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, it revealed that BJP was not serious in fighting corruption.

A political party can be successful in wooing voters only when it understands the aspirations of the people and works over it in its favour to devise a strategy. But the BJP has totally been unsuccessful on this front. People of the country are fighting corruption vehemently, but they could not get the political guidance which Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev have been expecting directly or indirectly from the BJP. The BJP cannot escape the criticism that it has disappointed the protesters. BJP’s biggest failure is that it has been unable to present itself as an effective political alternative. Moreover, the internal fight among its top leaders for political supremacy is also weakening the main opposition party. A commotion is being seen in the NDA over the question of who will lead the BJP in the next general election. Failing to have a compatibility with the alliance partners over the issue of leadership and its internal bickering is impeding the BJP to work in tandem with people of the country on fighting corruption. This situation is causing a lot of embarrassment to the BJP as the main opposition party. If the people continue to remain disappointed by both the ruling and opposition parties, such movements may take ugly shape in future as witnessed in many countries of the world last year. To avoid such circumstances, the opposition parties will have to understand the aspirations of the people and carry forward the mass movements in the right direction.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on August 12, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)