Can Anna Hazare be the Prime Minister of India?

It won’t be a bad idea for Congress to make Anna Hazare the next PM, particularly when India is facing a complete leadership bankruptcy.

By Rakesh Raman

Rakesh Raman
Rakesh Raman

Big question: Can Anna Hazare be the next Prime Minister (PM) of India after the Lok Sabha elections of April / May 2014? It may sound an hypothetical suggestion to many, but I have some valid reasons to support my argument.

As hustings are in full swing, the names that are in the air for PMship are Narendra Modi of BJP, Rahul Gandhi of Congress, and Arvind Kejriwal of AAP in the mainstream. The present PM Manmohan Singh has already announced his retirement.

Alternatively, perhaps somebody like Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee, or some Nitish Kumar may also emerge from the new front that is expected to take shape after the elections depending on the arithmetic of seats won by the smaller factions.

But the chances of somebody becoming the PM from the regional political groups are remote because of lack of political synergy among them. Plus, in the last Lok Sabha elections of 2009, the mainstream political parties including Congress and BJP won 322 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, leaving only a few seats for over a dozen small parties.

The smaller groups like Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, and others were so small that they were not in the race for PMship. And with support from its allies, Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) made Manmohan Singh the PM for the second five-year term.

But this time because of the newly formed AAP of Arvind Kejriwal that showed good results in the recent Delhi elections – and is ready to contest Lok Sabha elections – the other smaller groups are likely to get fewer seats than they got in 2009.

AAP is a breakaway group that Kejriwal formed after leaving the anti-corruption civil society movement of 2011 led by social activist Anna Hazare. Kejriwal is leveraging the popularity of Hazare’s movement selfishly for his own political ambitions by projecting his party as an anti-corruption party. However, Hazare is unhappy with Kejriwal’s move because the social activist never wanted to enter politics, saying politics is a dirty game.

As all common people in India are feeling suffocated with the rampant corruption in the country, they see a ray of hope in Kejriwal’s AAP to get rid of corruption. As a result, AAP has suddenly emerged as a new political force in India.

So, now the relatively big groups in the fray are Congress, BJP, and AAP. But who will be the PM? The options are Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, and Arvind Kejriwal, though so far only BJP has announced its PM candidate as Modi.

Let’s take the case of Rahul Gandhi first. He is being considered for the PM post only because he belongs to the powerful Nehru-Gandhi family while he actually does not deserve to be the PM. It appears from his every public appearance that he lacks confidence and is still reluctant to spearhead the government if Congress comes to a position of forming the government.

His reluctance is understandable because he does not have any experience in managing even a small department in the government. Worse, like other politicians in India, Rahul is also not educated enough to understand the socio-economic subtleties and become the ruler of 1.2 billion people in India.

If because of his relationship to the First Family, Rahul somehow manages to become the PM, he will at best be a trainee PM and will do more harm than help to the people of the country.

Moreover, if he is declared as the Congress candidate for the PM post before the elections, it will further jeopardize the party’s chances of winning some meaningful seats in the elections. In that case, the question of Rahul becoming the PM won’t arise. By the way, the same logic applies to his sister Priyanka Gandhi should she decides to come in the forefront. We can thus rule out Rahul.

The next option is Kejriwal. The way he has behaved for forming the government in Delhi with support from Congress, his AAP appears to be a secretly formed frontal group of Congress. In all probability, it was set up to decelerate the fast political strides of BJP led by Modi as its PM candidate.

This move might work to some extent in favor of Congress. But instead of handling the merger in Delhi subtly, both AAP and Congress did it so crudely that most voters have smelled foul play. There is a widespread criticism of Kejriwal because he has been speaking a flurry of lies particularly about his relationship with Congress that he dubbed as a corrupt party before Delhi elections.

So, AAP won’t be able to win many seats as a secret ally of Congress because it doesn’t look like a secret deal anymore. People now see Kejriwal as another dishonest politician.

As such, Congress, AAP, and other Congress allies won’t be able to get 272 seats required to form the government. Hence, even Kejriwal can’t become the PM. Many other factors related to Kejriwal’s shady character are slowly coming in the open – and which will soon go against him in his entire political journey. For the time being, let’s forget Kejriwal for the reasons cited above.

But Congress is hellbent on stopping Modi’s juggernaut that is fast approaching toward it with the aim to crush the family-run party forever, and which can also be the political demise for Rahul.

However, there is a likelihood that Modi may not be the eventual PM even if BJP is in a position to form the government at Center because of the aversion of BJP’s likely allies for Modi. Then Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Sushma Swaraj, or even L. K. Advani may be the options for BJP for PM post.

But even in that case Congress will be relegated to the opposition benches in the Parliament. Then what should Congress do to stay in power?

Anna Hazare. Now comes Hazare in the picture. Although Hazare is a social activist, he takes keen interest in politics. And he is still very popular in the political circles. Many believe that because of his pressure, the Indian government cleared the anti-corruption Lok Pal Bill in December.

Those who follow Indian politics closely would have observed that Hazare has been speaking against Modi in particular and BJP in general. This works fine for Congress, as it believes that enemy of the enemy is a friend. And last month, both Hazare and Rahul Gandhi exchanged pleasant notes at the time of clearing the Lok Pal Bill.

Congress can certainly build upon this recent closeness with Hazare to rope him in with the promise to make him the PM. There is a great likelihood that Hazare will accept this offer because of multiple reasons.

One, he wants to settle the score with Kejriwal who left him in the lurch to grab political power selfishly. Two, Hazare is a publicity-hungry man. He wants to be in the news and surrounded by supporters. Hazare’s hunger for publicity can be assessed from the fact that of late, he even approached BJP president Rajnath Singh for getting his statue built in Gurgaon. Now, even a temple for Hazare is planned.

Despite his childlike interests, Hazare enjoys respect not only from politicians of different parties, but also from common people across the country because of his firm stance against corruption. His approach to bringing political change may not be accurate, but he enjoys a clean image among all in the country.

If Hazare accepts the PM offer from Congress and a well-strategized mass communications campaign is carried out to justify his inclusion in the party, there is a possibility that Congress will win sufficient seats to form the government.

Hazare may not be qualified for the job, but why do you expect a qualified person to become India’s PM? If a weak man like Manmohan Singh can stay in the post for 10 years, every Tom, Dick, and Harry can become India’s PM. So, it won’t be a bad idea for Congress to make Hazare the next PM, particularly when India is facing a complete leadership bankruptcy.

You can argue that there are other senior (or junior) leaders in Congress who can take this post. But if you study their cases closely, you will find that they all are either not popular among the masses (as Hazare is) or they are perceived to be corrupt or they are simply not suitable for the post for many other reasons. Moreover, a traditional Congress man can’t even dare to dream for the PM post when Rahul is there.

So, Hazare – who does not belong to any political party – can be the right choice for Congress. And if Hazare becomes the PM for Congress, it will give some more time to Rahul to attain sufficient confidence to get ready for the PM’s position subsequently.

Now, Hazare will simply replace Manmohan Singh. The rest of the party structure will remain the same – that is, Sonia Gandhi as the Congress president and Rahul as vice president.

Now I repeat: Can Anna Hazare be the Prime Minster of India? Think… and think again before you express your opinion.

By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Company.

You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman

This article is part of our editorial initiative called REAL VOTER that covers political developments in India. Click here to visit REAL VOTER.

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