It’s actually a politicians v/s civil society battle. But it is being projected as a Congress battle. Admittedly, the government at the center has to take the lead in enacting the law, but equally, the bill has to pass through Parliament. It needs the support of all or atleast a majority of the parties. If the bill fails in Parliament, the government would fall. Is this the reason why the opposition is refusing to give their comments? Do they secretly hope that the bill will be defeated in Parliament leading to the collapse of the government? Will Anna Hazare allow the bill to be defeated? Why is he not demanding a response from the BJP? By their conduct and behavior, anyone would doubt him of being a “mukhota” of the BJP.
Attention instead has been diverted to the “method” by which the government asked the parties for their response. Much is being made about the “tick mark” kind of opinions sought. Fair enough. Let’s say that this approach was wrong. Let’s say that the government should have asked them to elaborate on the points raised with detailed and lengthy views. Would they then have given their views? I doubt it. If they wanted to give their views, they could have given it even now. They could have attached their detailed views along with putting the tick marks where they wanted to.
I think all political parties are concerned with the demands being made by the civil society activists. They realize that many of the demands are unreasonable. For eg., the demand to include the PM under the Lokpal bill. The constitution review commission set up under the NDA government had also recommended that the PM should be excluded. All opposition parties – and especially the BJP – want to “appear” to be on the right side of the civil society. But in reality, their views are no different from the views of the Congress.
Let’s look at the BJP’s reply to the government’s letter seeking their views. Here are some statements made in Nitin Gadkari’s response:
“Sovereignty lies with the Indian Parliament in the matter of legislation. Therefore views of various interested groups have to be placed before Parliament or political parties which are represented in Parliament through their members so that the parties and eventually the Parliament can take a final view on the matter”.....exactly what the Congress and most right-minded people in the country have been saying. The BJP in media however has been giving the impression that the Congress does not want to take the views of the civil society activists. In writing however, they say the same thing as the Congress.
“You have now considered in expedient that they must now give their views in a period of less than one week”.....so the BJP is saying that the time frame is too short. They are obviously trying to make it look like the period of one week is too short – but is it? Their spokespeople appear fully prepared in TV debates. Why don’t they just write their views down and give it in? Surely, over the last several years and more specifically over the last two months, the party has had a time to do a “chintan baithak” on these issues?
“Expecting political parties to give their views to a drafting committee comprising of civil society representatives for acceptance or otherwise would be upsetting the constitutional propriety where parties, parliamentarians and Parliament have the last word”. There. Clearly written and totally divergent from their TV interviews. So the BJP agrees that the civil society members have no right to drafting the bill. If the BJP had been ruling at the center, they too would have tried to prevent the civil society members from getting onto the drafting committee.
Maybe the Congress should say “Main kahoon toh saala, character dheela hai”!!
Frankly, this letter is not surprising. The BJP – and other parties – all want to keep the powers of law making to themselves. When it comes to protecting their powers, all politicians will eventually unite. But in this competitive environment, the BJP wants to appear to be holier than thou. This is not surprising. What is surprising is why the civil society activists are allowing the BJP to escape under a mere technicality?
The civil society activists would do themselves a lot of good, if they could establish their credibility of being apolitical. By not asking tough questions from the other parties....by allowing them to escape from the noose....they are giving the impression that they are the mukhotas of some or the other parties. Is this their battle against any government or is it only against the Congress government? That’s what they need to clarify. It’s the exact same with a section of the media. By refusing to put equal pressure on all parties....they are giving the impression that they are politically polarized. In the case of media, their political preferences are well known. What about the civil society activists? Are they also politcally polarized?
The real truth is that the entire Lokpal Bill movement is a political movement. It’s aimed at making the Congress look like a party of corrupt leaders....while leaving the BJP out of the same spotlight. The media cribbed against a politician, Kalmadi running the IOA....but accepted the BJP’s Vijay Malhotra as the President of IOA readily. It focused on the Congress’s misdeeds in the CWG.....but refused to focus attention on those of the MCD which is BJP controlled. It wants a probe against the UPA on the 2G issues.....but is happy to leave out the NDA’s decisions during their rule. This is why there is an impression that the entire movement is political. Either Anna is political....or he is being misinformed by his fellow supporters.....or should we say “minders”. He must clarify where he stands. Because until he does that, his movement will be seen as politically motivated.....