Friday, December 30, 2011

The Lokpal Bill, the Duplicity & the Moral High Ground

The Lokpal bill had been presented to both the houses (the lower, first and now the upper)…and both the houses have spoken (or voted rather). It is now clear as to who wanted what or whether they wanted it at all. 

From the very beginning, I, personally, was very critical about the way Team Anna (the threesome of the Anna, the Arvind and the Kiran (‘the’ is necessary, as they’ve become phenomena) went about their crusade against corruption.  It was never their fight for the same. The writing on the wall was there for everyone to see, but no one saw it, atleast, they pretended they never saw. It was always the fight against congress. And for this, the Team, pushed aside the actual champions behind the ‘India against Corruption’ and took the centre-stage. 

The way these people self-appointed themselves to become the ‘voice of the people’ was in itself ‘unconstitutional’. They went onto to super-impose themselves and insist on their own version to be sacrosanct and became adamant that the Parliament accept their version alone.  Thanks to some relentless and consistent media campaign - through electronic media and social networking sites - these people managed to capture the imagination of the people this time (like they always did in their lives...) and claimed the moral high-ground. 

On the other hand, having been arm-twisted and with a genuine fear of having lost the support of the people, the Congress and the UPA went into a huddle to finally come up with a Lokpal bill, though insufficient, or ineffective that many claim to be.  But, it came atleast.  The challenge was then to pass the bill with all the political parties setting aside their partisan views, coming together to show solidarity for the cause, and later on pave wave for a bill which was better and effective, through consensus building and amendments. 

But that was not to be. Petty politics took stage, partisan and narrow-minded views of the politicians took a prominent position.  And in both the houses, they debated and discarded the bills on various flimsy issues and petty reasons.

It was no longer a fight against corruption. It never was in the first place, but now it became increasingly apparent that everyone, including the Team Anna, had only politics in their minds.  It was all about creating a 'Holier than thou' image on the people.  The Congress looked at the situation as one, in which it could gather some lost confidence of the people, by way of bringing on the bill, the BJP resisted anything that the Congress and the UPA came up with, fearing that they will run away with all the credits. 

While the BJP claimed that CBI had to be under the Lokpal, it had in its ranks, the very same man who presided over the CBI for over 5 years while investigations were on against himself in the Babri Masjid Demolition case, (Yes buddy, you guessed him right! he still wants to be the Prime Minister one day).  Even while they advocated bringing the PM under the Lokpal, their best man for ‘Delhi’, the progressive, Narendra Modi claimed he was above the state Lokayukta and contested the appointment of the Chief Justice of Gujarat as the Lokayukta chief.  BS Yeddyurappa, their Chief Minister in Karnataka, before he was booed out, continued to pooh-pooh the Lokayukta report tabled by Santosh Hegde, a member of the Lokpal Drafting Committee, nominated by Team Anna. 

They conspired with the Team Anna, too, all the while, putting undue pressure on the Congress and the UPA.  They eyed on those brownie points that they were to get, by way of some very vigorous Team Anna campaigning against the congress for “striking down” their campaign by an iron hand and then “failing” to pass the Lokpal Bill in the forthcoming assembly elections. 

The congress itself wanted the bill to be defeated in the parliament as well as their amendment to grant it a constitutional status, for then it would be able to point it’s fingers and to say that the BJP never wanted to fight corruption. 

It was all hunky-dory as everyone was confusing everyone else and pandemonium was the only thing that you could see. 

The conclusion was forgone.  'India against Corruption' is back to square one, and Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal would soon be back on TV to announce on national TV that 'Anna Hazare' would again go on fast (if only they too shared his obsession for fast for once).  There would be more 'Jail Bharao' calls, and e-confirmations and tweet supports on news channel marquees would pour in. 

Who cares if we really ‘bharao the jails’ or to actually put to practice what we tweet? So long as we “go with the herd”, and share the wall-post our Facebook friends have shared, we too are on the fight against corruption, and that is all we need to do to claim that elusive moral high ground!!! 


P.S.  The BJP MPs claim the Lokpal bill as presented to the Loksabha was 'weak'. It could have been strengthened by granting it the 'Constitutional Status'. Then why did they vote against the amendment granting the Lokpal the same? The answer is, as again, simple and clear.  It do not want the Congress to come on top by having a Lokpal which was a 'bit' better than what Anna Hazare suggested. 

On the other hand, the Team Anna claims it was a weak and inefficient bill which was tabled by the Government as they didn’t accede to most of their demands, but they fail to see that the Government had simultaneously moved and taken up bills like ‘Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, the Whistle-blower’s Protection Bill, Grievance Redressal Bill, and even the new National Sports Development Bill, which aims at bringing sports bodies under RTI Act.  These Bills, would together realise most of what Anna Hazare and his team is asking for.  These, together with the Administrative,  Police and Election Reforms are would go a long way to bring transparency and accountability and will mitigate most of the problems that the country is facing today in the way of corruption.


Prasanth Menon  

1 Bouquets And Brickbats:

Manish Moothedath said...

The only factor why BJP is opposing this bill is the upcoming elections..
They dont want the UPA Govt. to take credit in bringing this bill.

Just wasting taxpayers money.. Nothing else

 
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