ON THE WANE IN UP
Can Team Anna influence the outcome of UP polls in 2012? Unlikely, if we go by the thin crowd at their Lucknow meeting, or the incessant allegations and exposures
Pradeep Kapoor Lucknow
Whether and how much Team Anna would impact the 2012 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh (UP) is a hot topic in socio-political circles these days. What indeed is the real import of Arvind Kejriwal's warning to UPA that Team Anna will campaign against Congress if the Jan Lokpal bill is not passed in the winter session of Parliament? Will it make a difference to poll fortunes of the electoral contenders?
In fact, the team's waning popular appeal was evident in the thin crowd at Kejriwal's October 19 public meeting in Lucknow. It was at this meeting that he was attacked by one Jitendra Pathak. Moreover, infighting among Team Anna office-bearers about the funds collected in Lucknow is no secret. Several local-level office-bearers have been removed from their posts. Those who had joined the movement because of Anna Hazare are shocked by the allegations
and counter-allegations flying thick and fast.
Political analyst Dr Ramesh Dixit of Lucknow University believes Team Anna's campaign in UP against Congress would not be able to make any impact. He said it had lost considerable credibility because of the repeated media exposures of wrongdoings by its members.
"In rural and semi-rural constituencies, corruption may be the issue, but not Anna," he said. "The personal image of candidates and, of course, caste would remain
Prominent Hindi writer and trade union leader Virendra Yadav said, "With every passing day the team is losing its glamour and influence with its members getting exposed. By the time elections are held, it would have become irrelevant."
Moreover, he added, Congress would surely evolve some way to deal with Team Anna's appeal, possibly by giving constitutional status to Lokpal in winter session along the lines suggested by Rahul Gandhi.
"When Team Anna's relationship with the RSS and BJP was exposed, it shocked a substantial number of those who had joined the fight against corruption," said Yadav.
Former chief minister and currently president of Jan Kranti Party, Kalyan Singh does not count Team Anna as a factor in UP politics. Prominent Muslim leader and convenor of All India Babri Mosque Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani too felt that Kejriwal's warning to UPA holds no ground as Congress was already fighting for number three or four position in UP, where the real fight is between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party.
"If Hazare's team visits UP, they will be asked whether they are campaigning for BJP," said Jilani, adding that Muslims were upset with some elements that had joined Anna's campaign in Lucknow and used to shout communal slogans in front of various mosques during the holy month of Ramjan.
Prominent SP leader Mohd Azam Khan, considered the Muslim face of his party, demanded that the Enforcement Directorate should probe into the funds collected by Team Anna.
Dalit activist SR Darapuri, a former IPS officer who retired as IG, opined that Hazare and his team should appeal against all corrupt candidates without taking the name of any political party. He felt that would have far wider impact.
Former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma said that Team Anna's campaign in UP is meant to help BJP. "Why don't they speak about corruption in the BJP, SP and BSP governments?" she asked, adding that Hazare and his team were working as agents of Rightwing parties.
To take on the barrage of criticism levelled at them, Sanjay Singh, UP convenor of Team Anna, announced that they would train their volunteers to interact with the masses regarding the Jan Lokpal bill and
explain its importance in the fight against corruption.