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"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Lokpal to Electoral Politics-Let's Treat The Disease not The Symptoms!

As expected, Political class has hoodwinked Civil Society once again. They brought a Lokpal which they wanted - A Toothless Tiger.

I have been of the view all along & have told this in person to Team Anna too - Lokpal is no RTI. Political Class will never let it happen. Though some opposition parties paid a lip services to Team Anna, just to get some political mileage but in the end they don't want or rather can't risk an effective Lokpal.

Corruption is embedded in our Political & Electoral system where Civil Society, an euphemism for Middle Class, has stopped mattering. We brought it upon ourselves, but now is the time to change it. Here is why & how of it?

The defeat of NDA in 2004 had convinced political class that "India Shining", a middle class focused electoral theme, does not translate into votes. Consequently UPA ignored the governance & scuttled NDA era economic reforms, instead focusing on appeasing the poor & marginalized through welfare schemes and subsidies. In absence of reforms, discretion and cronyism ruled, leading to massive corruption in a semi-liberalized Indian economy. Common man suffered & was rendered helpless.

Came along Anna. Millions across the nation supported Anna's movement against corruption. Success of Anna campaign conclusively busted the MYTH, purported by political class, that "Middle class is self-centered and is indifferent to the social & national concerns". Anna movement gave people a credible platform with a hope of change and they responded.

This uprising was against the political class in general, though some opposition parties would like to wishfully believe that this angst was against UPA or Congress. Hence, it was comical to see political leaders gleefully sharing the dais with Anna at Jantar Mantar, hoping to convert the photo opportunity into vote bank arithmetic. Political parties are playing an opportunistic game, trying to ride Anna bandwagon, with no intent of bringing a systemic reforms in the current political system. The fear is that, by aligning or seeming to align with some political parties, Anna movement will loose it's credibility & effectiveness.People are looking for a fundamental change in the way our political parties & electoral systems are run. One law or bill will not bring out the desired systemic change.

Current political system is designed to be corrupt and inefficient. Political parties raise legitimate & illegitimate electoral funding from corporates & businessmen who subsequently dictate the policies of the government. With funding in place, political parties do not involve electorate in deciding the candidates unlike the primary system of USA. If the candidates are not up to the mark, which is usually the case, educated middle class chooses to abstain as they aren't involved or invested in the selection of the candidate.

Coming to candidates, many are forced or choose to buy their party ticket & later they buy their way to the electoral victory. They recover their electoral expenses & much more, through corrupt means. Even a good candidate, having been elected, has no voice of his own to represent his electorate in an assembly or the parliament. He is herded by party syndicates & whipped to vote as per opportunistic political arithmetic dictated by the party. Any dissent leads to disqualification.

This party focused & business funded political system has inherent flaws and is poised for a change. The political awakening through Anna movement presents once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take power from political parties & hand it over to the electorate. In this era of coalition politics, where TMC or DMK with less than 20 MPs control the UPA government, we need no more than 40 MPs, elected on a common platform without the help of the current party system, to change the political discourse of this nation.

Can this happen? Yes, It is imminently possible. We should create a common platform, identify and field 100 credible candidates who have spent years in public life but are loath to enter the current political system. Indian middle class has learned to communicate & organize itself through new age communication tools as is evident throughout Anna campaign. Volunteers & paid office bearers should manage the electoral campaign of these candidates. Campaign funding should be crowd sourced to avoid dependence on few money bags.

If 30 out of 100 win, political parties will be forced to rethink their political & electoral strategy. We have to prove that electoral victory can be achieved by non-corrupt means. No one likes to be corrupt, specially in the age of Lokayukta & Lokpal, but today's electoral system hinges on corruption. By showing the way through a non-corrupt electoral system, parties will be forced to adapt. After all they are the masters of guessing the popular mood!

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