So politics has now begun with full force to ensure obfuscation of issues regarding the lokpal bill. Powerful, influential people have come up to poke holes in the Anna hazare led movement for a lokpal bill by resurrecting old bogies and trying to discredit the demand by criticizing the manner in which it is being made.
At the outset, I must confess that I do not agree with a lot of provisions of the ‘Jan lokpal’ bill. It is impractical, and frankly envisages an extra-constitutional body that will eliminate the separation of powers doctrine enshrined in our constitution. If we come to practical reasons, investing such great power on a body will require people who understand the whole ballyhoo about great power and great responsibility and we don’t really have any old folks around here with Spiderman or Superman’s sense of morality. The absolute power that ‘Team Anna’ wants to give will, corrupt the persons vested with it.
However, it’s not that old chestnut I’m trying to discuss. Its the fact that now three groups have put forward three bills and a fourth hat will get thrown into the ring tomorrow.
According to NDTV’s 9 ‘o clock news yesterday, a Dalit leader Mr. Udit Raj has said that since there are no Dalits in the upper echelons of team Anna, and indeed some of the team members are anti- reservationists, it is not possible that Dalit needs will be met by the proposed bill. It is therefore incumbent upon the backward classes to put forward their own version titled the ‘Bahujan Lokpal Bill’, which was to be released today at a rally for the SC/ST/OBC people of the country. I must admit that its nearly 8 pm now and I haven’t heard a word on the news about this particular bill so far.
A couple of days ago a ‘Muslim Leader’ came on TV and claimed that since Anna had been supported by the RSS at some point , Muslims in the country could not possible benefit from anything that he or his team propose.
The ‘Civil Society’ leaders such as Aruna Roy and others have already criticized the bill for its impracticality and unconstitutionality.
It is this political ploy that has me worried about the future of this sudden mass movement. Once these old ghosts come charging into the public psyche, the larger issue of corruption will fade into the background and the parliament and people will happily go back to squabbling about the representation of backward classes and minorities in the lokpal bill. It is the greatest weapon in the armory of the political class. These ghosts are what have denied the passing of the Women’s reservation bill in the parliament all these years because the ‘minority’ and ‘Backward’ concerns apparently get threatened by reservation for women. Now it seems that the lack of a ‘Dalit’ or a ‘Muslim’ leader in the team behind the India against Corruption campaign is going to derail the entire dialogue and make sure that politicians have a convenient excuse to hide behind and delay presentation and discussion of the bill. What I fail to understand is how any community can consider that an anti – corruption bill is potentially harmful to the interests of any community. And why are our people so intensely hardwired to prioritize communal considerations that a universal issue like corruption is getting sidelined by the questions of community representation.
It’s ironic really that today is also the first time that I’ve heard a member of team Anna admit that the parliament “ofcourse” is entitled to discuss, amend and change the proposed bill and finally might just pass a different act altogether. Swami Agnivesh in an interview to NDTV today finally admitted that it is not that they want the bill as proposed to get passed, they want the Jan Lokpal Bill to be tabled, discussed, amended if needed and then an Act passed by the end of August. It’s the first time they haven’t stubbornly said that the Jan lokpal bill must be made into an act as it is.