Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ignore Anna’s panel.....but show resolve to kill corruption

It’s going on expected lines. Anna’s meetings with the government are making no progress. There is a huge disagreement on basic issues. The Anna camp is trying to give an impression that a disagreement means poor commitment and hidden motives of the government. This is partly true..... not entirely. There is a genuine disagreement on some of the clauses and we need to pause and think of what options exist at this point of time.

But first let’s look at the disagreements. I am not looking at the defense put up by the government. It is bound to defend its own turf. I am looking at different opinions expressed in media by different types of people. And the feeling I get is that there is no unanimous support for Anna’s demands. As would be expected in any democracy, there are divergent viewpoints. It’s not entirely clear if Anna’s suggestions are all the “perfect” ones and that their rejection reflects bad intentions on the part of the government. Many have expressed that the Lokpal would become a super authority and that would corrupt it before removing corruption elsewhere. Many have questioned the wisdom of having anybody over the Parliament in a democracy of our type. Many have stated that the PM should not be included within the Lokpal during his/her that, its fine. And so on and so forth.

My own suggestions have been simple. Include the PM and the ministers and higher judiciary all under the Lokpal. But have a filtering committee to decide which cases to prosecute and which not to. Clearly, not all PILs can be allowed to start prosecution. I sometimes feel we have too much freedom in this country. And that freedom is blatantly abused by many. That’s why, a filtering committee is so important to have. That committee itself should not be headed by a single person – the Speaker at the moment. It must include a wider representation of society....including a few “civil society” members as well. It should include the leader of the opposition, the CVC, and others like them. Already, the Prevention of Corruption does include all politicians in its scope. So there is no disagreement really on the concept. The difference is on the structure of the filtering committee. I do agree it should not be a single person decision like at present.

Let’s now look at what options exist. If civil society feels that its demands are being unjustly denied, then what should they do? Should they go on a hunger strike en-masse and threaten the government? After all, any government that acts against such protesters would face the wrath of the nation. If this happens, should the Anna movement allow the BJP to gain advantage of the situation? Or should civil society fight the elections? If their following so really that big, surely they can raise funds and fight elections in at least a few seats? Can they win Delhi and Bangalore to start with? Surely, that would be a slap on the face of the government? In these two cities, it appears they have a lot of supporters.....why don’t they contest in these two cities? Or are they so disillusioned with elections that they are openly saying that it’s a flawed system? Or is the reality this that they are not sure of their own following?

I am suggesting they contest only a few seats and make it a prestige issue. Let Anna enter Parliament through a fight in Delhi....right under the nose of the central government. Likewise, let Prashant Bhushan enter the Parliament from Bangalore....right under the nose of the BJP government. And Shanti Bhushan from Ahmedabad.....right under Modi’s nose. Ahmedabad and Bangalore should be easy wins....given the overt support they are getting from the BJP. Right or wrong? We’ll soon find out! Or in Chennai where the old “corrupt” government has been booted out?

I am also repeating my earlier suggestion that a bill be introduced in Parliament which re-states that suicides are illegal; especially the ones that threaten a duly elected government. The courts should step in “automatically” if a complaint is launched against a practitioner of  hunger strikes. Hunger strikes should be time-limited and should automatically cease after 5-7 days. If the intention is not to threaten, but just register a point of view, surely 5-7 days are more than enough? Maybe, they can have “relay hunger strikes” so that the movement lasts longer? Maybe Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal can start where Anna leaves it and then they can repeat the chain? That’s what happens in Spain. Almost every day, there are protests outside the local government’s office. And it’s very innovative. They sing and dance and raise banners and voice their complaints. But they never terrorize the government. Threatening a government with a hunger strike should be treated on par with a terrorist hijacking a plane and making demands of the government.

The real truth is that civil society has gone too far. It lacks credibility. It should be chopped in size. The good man, Anna Hazare, has either been hijacked by people with agendas or he has over-reached himself. This civil society is hardly representative of the real civil society. The government needn’t worry too much about it. It should fight it politically with aggression, rather than try and be gentlemanly with these self-consumed and arrogant activists....

1 comment:

  1. Well said Prashant, these SO CALLED civil society members have become so arrogant...they are threatening our very basics of democracy & trying to project as if they are the only crusaders of corruption!!!

    I would suggest we start some online campaign against these arrogant SO CALLED civil society group !!! if we have different point of view either we are corrupt or un-civilized