Millennium Post

‘Whatever we expose is a form of corruption’

Do you agree with Team Anna's stand of forming a political party and contesting elections?

I don't think it is a question of my agreeing or disagreeing, it was a decision taken by the core team , I only feel a little worried about the decision because of the changed character and the factors and forces that go into electoral politics. That is the cause and the effect and both need to be understood and that is why many people and some organisations think of changing electoral politics by entering electoral politics and that is why some keep away from it and both have their own pros and cons. I won't say that they should not take this decision but, I think that whatever happens to any such major movement affects or influences other movements as well. So we are concerned as to whether this movement will really achieve the cause by entering electoral politics, because for achieving the cause they have to win the elections and come to a power position and it is not that easy. Even if they win what will be the future course of action and the state of the social movement that was being led by them, that is the concern.

What are your major concerns regarding the future of India against corruption?

One of the major concerns is that the way electoral politics is revolving around some other factors rather than ideology and values. Now, how will the people emerging out of people's movement will be able to face these challenge and how far; there is money market mafia. The second thing is that even if you go inside [government], whether you come to power or not matters, for, if for coming to power you have to compromise in the form of an alliance or other wise then the real cause gets side-tracked and if you do come to power without compromise then that is certainly an achievement, but is very difficult to happen. We also see much has not being achieved, although we are optimistic till today that there are dilemmas in many people's mind. While we say that we want peoples power, this in itself is not an easy task and so both electoral and non-electoral politics has its own limitations. If some one genuinely decided to go inside, it is their prerogative and not to be condemned. Whether you will join or not you have to decide thinking of various factors – your vision, your goal, your strength, and your limitations. Like what happened to Sharad Joshi or what happened to P V Rajgopal when he contested elections or what happened to Tikait Saheb or what happened to M D Nanjundaswamy. It was a large farmers’ movement. Even Shankar Guha Niyogi and his cadres won once or twice but otherwise [could not succeed] and what happened to George Fernandes. That is why we are concerned. This movement should have a future and a goal to achieve.

Now since Team Anna has decided to enter politics, do you think the movement against corruption is lost?

Not necessarily that way. But we have seen in many cases that the movement certainly gets negatively affected, rather than getting a boost. Non-electoral politics, that is movement politics have their own angularity, own styles and require different courses of action. At the same time, one must accept that, earlier, political parties used to be movements and they used to consciously pursue the paths of movements even while they were contesting elections. It was not just considered complementary but it was the two sides of the same coin. Now, in the present context, that is not happening. Electoral politics is becoming pocket-mongering and what not. Comparatively, non-electoral politics is still pro-people and pro-disadvantaged and more ideology based. If one has to come to power, alliance politics becomes a must and unless you don’t come to power you cannot take decisions. Allies influence decision-making and that even movements do. Those who go inside also have to come out and fight, like Mamata Banerjee's battle in Singur. It was not only fought in the assembly but around many issues like Dalit atrocities. Whenever anything major happens, the politicians also come out and become activists. So, at least, it should be complimentary. If the complimentary [aspect] is maintained then there is a chance of the movement continuing along with electoral politics.
Is Medha Patkar and National Alliance of People's Movement (NAPM) still a part of Team Anna?

Technically, yes, I am a member of the core committee but I have not given that much time. No other reason necessarily but all other movements are equally important for us. The movement against the builders, for the urban poor, forest housing rights, movements of unorganised sector workers, the adivasi and the overall movement of decentralisation of power and people's power. Non-electoral politics gets strengthed. Also, it addresses society and not just the state. There are a number of irregularities and inadequacies at the society level that this work is also important. As NAPM, the decision all through has been not to contest elections, but individual ally organisations are permitted to contest elections. They have been contesting those. In the changed context what we will do is not known and a detailed dialogue needs to be undertaken.

Your visibility in Team Anna decreased this time as compared to last year?

I thought that the movement only focussing on one particular act of Jan Lokpal would not be my arena. Although we support the Jan Lokpal and the anti-corruption movement, we are already doing that in various sectors. We have been digging out scams like Adarsh, Lavasa. And  the Narmada judicial inquiry is going on for a thousand crore scam. Whatever we are exploring and exposing in the form of inequity and injustice is one form of corruption. What Ambani gets in Krishna Godavari basin or what Mittal gets in Jharkhand or what Posco gets in Orissa, all of these are the issues of both. These have to be addressed by asserting people's right to resources and the right to development planning. Now, this is being pushed through an act which is coming before Parliament. I thought, frankly, that, on the whole, the kind of structure of the decision-making and the innovative strategies was not forthcoming but we support the movement.

Since you are not on the same page with IAC with some of their decisions, will we still see you as the core member of the team?

I will not like to do any thing that will give a blow to the movement's progress. It may not be up-to the expectation of every one but it should still continue. I was always representing NAPM. That was very clear to Arvind Kejriwal and they had accepted it. NAPM still continues to support Jan Lokpal and the latest demands during this fast. And the decision to go on to fast itself – that raises some questions, like we think that corruption issues in BJP-ruled states were not at all highlighted.

It was decided that central government ministers and the union government should be questioned first, but we thought that in order to be impartial and secular character it was necessary not to give wrong impression. Also, it was very obvious that state level corruption would also be taken up in order to maintain a balance.
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