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Monday, March 26, 2012

Anna readies for another round - will Lok Pal be a Bill ever ?

Have you heard of Governor Myrray Maclehose and the Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong ?   The one established on 15 February 1974, when Hong Kong was under British rule aimed at cleaning up endemic corruption in the many departments of the Hong Kong Government through law enforcement, prevention and community education, is in someways the precursor to the moment of Anna.  Only recently,    Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy  was quoted as stating  that the differences on the Lokpal Bill have been narrowed down and efforts are on to reach a consensus for passing the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

If you are still cynical about it, you are not entirely wrong.  It has such a reputation of non-starter, having been first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and passed the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. But before it could be passed by Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was dissolved and the bill lapsed. Subsequently there have been very many variants but none of them saw the light of the day.   In 2011, during the Parliament's Winter Session, the Lok Sabha passed  Lokpal Bill, but it was subsequently turned down in the Rajya Sabha.

Almost a year ago, history happened with Hazare’s Indefinite Fast on 5 April 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to press for the demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a stronger anti-corruption bill with stronger penal actions and more independence to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas.  The movement attracted attention in the media, and thousands of supporters. The protests did spread to many other cities also.  On 9 April 2011, Govt issued a notification in the Gazette of India on formation of a joint committee. It accepted the formula that there be a politician chair and an activist, non-politician co-chair and on that morning, Hazare ended his 98-hour hunger strike. He addressed the people and set a deadline of 15 August to pass the bill.

Even his strong critics and detractors cannot ignore him and his demands - Kisan Baburao Hazare   has certainly become a mass leader.   In  2011 Foreign Policy magazine named him among top 100 global thinkers.

After some debacle and bungling, now Anna is back again in news as he returned in full force to Jantar Mantar on Sunday [25th March 2012], setting an August deadline for the government to file cases against its 14 "corrupt'' Cabinet ministers. Energized by the surging crowd at his day-long fast, Team Anna also demanded investigation and trial against over 1,300 elected representatives (MPs and MLAs) who are facing criminal charges to be completed within the next six months.  Hazare, who had been battling ill health for over two months, looked sharp and combined the attack against politicians of all hues, with his earthy wit that was met with much gusto and applause.

In their provocative speeches Team Anna members named nearly 25 politicians alleging that there were complaints of corruption against them and strong anti-corruption laws or protection could not be expected from such polity. Hazare also appeared to be sensitive to the charge that the group had ``insulted'' Parliament taking the opportunity to emphasis that it was the political representatives with dubious antecedents who had defamed the House.   The paper reports suggest that the list named includes :  P Chidambaram, Ajit Singh, Farooz Abdullah, G K Vasan, Kamal Nath, Kapil Sibal, Sharad Pawar, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Vilasrao Deshmukh, M K Alagiri, Virbhadra Singh, S M Krishna and Praful Patel.

His last hunger strike in Mumbai could have been a flop, but the Govt cannot afford to ignore Anna this time.  This time, Anna spoke of the sacrifices made those whistleblowers in fighting corruption and  wanted probe to be made in to such incidents;  so clearly Anna at his ripe age is ready for the next round – and citizens want something to happen at least this time, which only will benefit the Nation.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

  1. either Anna is mad or politicians are too unscrupulous - the end is nowhere in sight