(Business Standard) Anna Hazare’s decision to seek a political alternative to his agitation may have been ‘welcomed’ by political parties, but it has upset many an electoral calculation.For starters, it has set the stage for the entry of yoga guru-turned activist Baba Ramdev into electoral politics.Hazare’s announcement has also upset the calculations of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was banking on Team Anna to whip up anti-Congress sentiment. It had hoped this would reap rich electoral dividends for the party. However, Hazare’s decision to enter the political fray would end up splitting the anti-Congress vote.While Hazare has not yet clarified whether his team would float a party or support particular candidates, its decision has made it imperative for Baba Ramdev to plunge into the political system as well. In 2010, Ramdev had announced his Bharat Swabhiman party’s objective would be to “cleanse the system”. He had said his party would contest all 543 Lok Sabha seats in the next elections with a manifesto that would address the key issues of black money and corruption.“In order to stay relevant, Baba Ramdev would be forced to enter the political fray. It is well known he has always enjoyed political backing and has had political intentions,” said a political analyst. Ramdev is set to hold a protest rally in the capital’s Ramlila Maidan on August 9.Team Anna’s decision added to the smugness in the Congress camp, with party leaders such as Digvijay Singh, Ambika Soni and Salman Khurshid claiming the Congress’ stand had been vindicated, as "Team Anna’s real political ambitions had been revealed”.The decision, however, added to the BJP’s discomfiture. The party’s tacit support for Team Anna’s movement came with a belief that the party would benefit from the massive anti-Congress sentiment whipped up by the movement.BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who was earlier enthusiastic in his support for Anna, was forced to clarify on Friday that while he welcomed Hazare’s announcement to enter the political arena,“Team Anna could not become an alternative to the BJP.”
“The net sum will be the anti-Congress vote would get divided further among several contenders—Team Anna and maybe Baba Ramdev, not just the BJP,” said a political observer. The possibility of BJP’s vote bank being hit is strong, as both the BJP and Team Anna eye the urban middle class constituency.The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, which seems to be the party worst hit by civil society movements, is, in fact, quite unperturbed. A Congress Cabinet minister said,“We simply did not react to their threats this time around, and this anti-government movement just folded up.”The party is gloating over the fact that come 2014, the anti-Congress vote and mood (if it persists) would be divided between many.Also, it would still stand to gain from its loyal vote bank, while the BJP wouldn’t.