June 1, 2011

Twists and Turns of the Lokpal Bill

There is such a buzz about the Lokpal Bill in 2011, that most wouldn't know that its been in the pipeline for 42 years now!! (almost as old as yours truly:))... Well we ought to thank Anna Hazare and team for bringing it back from the backburner...

Anna Hazare is an impeccable man and having him rally us Indians for the Lokpal bill is appropriate, at face value... I was as charged as many other fellow citizens and was happy to see that a mini uprising against corruption by the citizens had the government sit up and take notice. But with time and also some analyses, I have many second thoughts on the whole issue of Lokpal bill and the constitution of the members who are drafting it. To be fair, the large numbers who turned up in every city / town in India was to do with the fact that 2010 was an amazing year for unearthing scams; from CWG games to 2G to housing scam to black money laundering etc etc.. People were horrified at the magnitude and scale of immunity that politicians enjoyed and they all rallied behind Anna Hazare. Also, the 24/7 TV channels took the issue up, to beat their rivals in TRPs. So, it was more a case of having the right man, at the right time and at the right place.

Post the April fast by Anna Hazare, a 10 member committee was formed to draft the Bill, 5 from the government and 5 members were from "Civil Society". Since April, I am completely confused on this term "civil society". Are politicians not part of civil society?? Are they aliens? Civil society was a term used to distinguish the armed forces from the rest... But post April 2011, here was a new meaning to "Civil Society". I lapped it up reluctantly.

Human mind loves to ruminate and on further thinking and discussions I slowly found myself getting disillusioned with this new so-called "civil society members". As a thumb rule, I have often observed that anybody with a 'holier than thou' attitude falls, sooner or later. But these civil society members basked in their glory of fame and actually think the people are behind them... I have problems with some their assumptions.

  1. Who has authorized these 5 members to represent civil society?? (why not me for example:-))
  2. What is their term? Where is their accountability? How do they get elected / nominated?
  3. And if we do get a Lokpal bill passed on the lines of these members, what is the role of the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislative? Will this bill not undermine the role of PM, President and the Chief Justice?
  4. Are we not empowering another body with Supreme powers that can itself become corrupt?
I am now of the view that we are better of without the Lokpal bill, and instead I believe in the power of democracy, to be able to vote a government out, just as we saw in the elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal.
And to top it all, we have had many volte-faces from Anna Hazare himself. Within a few days of the appointment of the Lokpal drafting committee, he read out a letter from Sonia Gandhi and praised her for her offer to help, in the War on Corruption. Recently, he blamed her and praised the PM. Two months back he praised Narendra Modi and last week he called Gujarat a badly governed state... He clearly seems to be a green horn. The less said about the Bhushans the better... these two are lawyers who own acres of land in UP and Delhi, between them. That leaves us with an emotional Santosh Hegde and an activist in Arvind Kejriwal. In contrast we have solid veterans politically and legally in Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid and Pranab dada and Moily.... If the meeting on May 30 is any indication, these thorough-breds are capable of disarming these rookies and will probably have the last laugh:)

Don't get me wrong, I am no UPA supporter, but I don't see much hope for the "Civil Society":):), from these Aliens!!

1 comment:

R Swaminathan said...

Democracy has its own way of handling corruption -- by giving an opportunity to throw out the corrupt politicians in the next elections. A free and fair election is the true "lokpal"