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Rant against Team Anna from a die-hard supporter

May 8, 2012

I continue to be a massive fan and supporter of Team Anna… so much so that I dread Team Anna’s failure and will consider it as a huge personal loss.  Infact, I feel quite low that, in my view, we are failing and failing because of our own basic mistakes. These easy to avoid mistakes are also the ones that make Congress such a horrible organization. Some of them are as follows:

Lack of transparency: More than a year after Jantar Mantar (when ‘the people’ became owners of this movement), we have zero transparency…..all meaningful and serious Team Anna discussions and decisions are behind closed doors. Forget live telecast or edited video recordings, not even brief agenda or minutes are available. I am shocked that the RTI star Arvind Kejriwal says transparency can be suicidal for a people’s movement that rightly claimed honesty as its only weapon…and he doesn’t even explain why? What is there to hide? the fact that we are considering an electoral venture or that we disagree on many things?

The problem is not these things (disagreements, contesting elections)…the problem is hiding these things…the problem is deciding internally and then trying to demo that the nation wants us to contest / we have no alternative (the latest survey on janlokpal is one such example where the questions are framed in such a way that anybody who takes the survey can only support IAC’s pre-determined stance of supporting election candidates).

There is no need to demo anything…just discuss openly and sincerely, people will see it and decide themselves whether there is an alternative. Remember, we are a democracy…treat people as adults like you did before. Don’t be like Congress or BJP.

Transparency will force IAC members to talk and act sensibly and responsibly, educate the masses, create confidence and dispel people’s doubts about IAC, its leaders, its aims, methods, etc. and it also allows supporters (even detractors) to give informed and helpful suggestions/feedback.

Lack of decision-making process: There seems to be no clear decision-making process in Team Anna (i may be wrong since lack of transparency means I can only guess). I don’t think the core or the working committees decide things on the basis of majority votes….it seems to rely on ‘consensus’ (which generally means going with the most vocal or influential voices in the group). It’s fine to give certain people more votes than 1 since they give more to the movement (Anna being the face and moral force, AK being the brain and chief executive, etc.) but, to decide fairly, make this objective and transparent (if possible, do not give veto power to anyone).

Feigning unanimity on all issues:

Why is there never any civilized public difference of opinion among Team Anna members? Please, there is no need to feign unanimity on all issues.  Don’t be afraid of media. It can blow up differences only when you pretend there aren’t any. Come out openly with the differences, discuss in public in a matured way, agree to disagree, invite feedback, be open to changing your positions, decide based on majority votes and ask everyone to support the majority decision. People and media will automatically focus on and help with the content of discussions.

Negativity:

Why is everything we say negative? what is the need to turn all politicians and commentators into an enemy? People understand the bitter truth (criminal MPs) when we say it once and continuously repeating it daily only irritates them – they are interested in positive solutions. Why do we have to be defensive on everything related to us and offensive on everything related to the politicians. On the talk shows (bickerings), why is there no difference between us and Congress, BJP folks? Why do we have to criticize govt for everything under the sun from FDI to not bidding for Gandhi memorabilia without explaining clear rationale for our stance.

Going solo and re-inventing the wheel instead of partnering with existing institutions / experts:

We seem to be over-confident (aiming for utopia) about our abilities and unable to adjust and work with others:

  • Why do we ignore mainstream media and rely on a channel with negligible reach (Chauthi duniya) to communicate with people? I understand Zee (and other channels) have offered us a 30 minute weekly slot….it should be a good start. The problem is not lack of time …the problem is lack of good content. Create meaningful content…if people like it,  you’ll get more slots. Even if all media houses are corrupt, they are not fools…they care about TRPs. TRPs also help us in judging ourselves and signal the need to improve our content. Believe in the markets. If media is not giving us time, then we should look within….simply shouting ‘paid media’ is escapism and, dare I say, leftism.
  • I also disagree with this talk of ignoring mainstream political parties and supporting ‘good’ independent or smaller party candidates. Is it a secret that a lot of people vote for only 1) parties/candidates they have heard of and 2) parties/candidates having a reasonable chance of forming a (stable) govt? The last thing that people want is a weak govt or frequent elections. There is  a reason (many reasons) why Congress and BJP keep winning despite being widely known to be corrupt. I doubt we can provide a good alternative that is also widely believed to have a reasonable chance. The positive solution is the votebank / political pressure group approach. Alternatively, if we support good candidates, they should clearly promise that these candidates, if elected, will ensure a stable and strong govt by supporting (without blackmailing mamata style) the coalition closest to majority.

Lack of fresh ideas: The Hisar campaign was probably our last meaningful new idea ….this is evidence that we are a closed shop and need to be more open. Even on existing ideas, there is no focus. Even though Uttarakhand passed a good Lokayukta law 6 months ago, IAC has not once demanded President’s consent of the law. Manishji Sisodia, in the spirit of being negative and defensive, even confidently shot down my suggestion to this effect on the ground  that the people of Uttarakhand should demand President’s consent and IAC cannot do this!! So much for our only tangible achievement so far! Is it hard to understand that if President approves the bill and the Lokayukta law helps in reducing corruption in Uttarakhand, then our fight becomes easier?

Lack of feedback channels: I am aware of the charcha samuh and chauthi duniya initiatives. Ironically, the well-intentioned Chauthi duniya live with Arvind Kejriwal (where anyone can call and directly speak with AK for 30 seconds) shows that there is no efficient proper mechanism to encourage, capture, evaluate and implement feedback even from regular supporters. Its good to show that AK is directly taking feedback but is it really efficient? Shouldn’t there be a trained team who has more time to interact with people and then transparently channels meaningful feedback to AK / IAC which, in turn, transparently deliberates , decides and acts on that feedback completing the loop?

Excuse me for some of this criticism is probably over the top …but I criticize only because this movement has such great people and potential and this is India’s only hope.

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3 Comments
  1. amit khemka permalink

    i hope team anna is reading this article……u have just written everything in such a simple manner n yet so effective that if we follow it m sure we wud have smethin to cheer abt the achievements to IAC which till date is none which people are aware of……..keep writing dude……

  2. thanks buddy…i have sent it to IAC, Mayankbhai and AK….hope they read, react and prove me wrong!

  3. Pritesh permalink

    well said!

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