Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hazare havoc in Parliament -- Rajya Sabha winds up at 12.02 on Dec 30

A senior BJP leader in Lok Sabha in an informal chat with journalists said in reply to a question whether all political parties were afraid of Anna Hazare, said, "Not all political parties and politicians are afraid of Anna Hazare. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav are not afraid of Anna Hazare." She was honest not to include her own party among the band of the fearless. She also felt that Lokpal is necessary.

It is the fear of Anna Hazare that has forced the Congress politicians to lose their nerve and they have committed all the possible blunders. Prime minister Manmohan Singh in his intervention in the Lokpal bill debate on Wednesday said that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. Critics of Congress would argue with much justification that Congress had no good intentions, but the hell was sure there.

Why did the Congress want to create a Lokpal as well as Lokayuktas bill if not to please or pacify the Hazare group? Congress people just refuse to concede that they were responding to the Hazare pressure and they even wanted to do more than what Hazare asked for. That is why, they wanted to give the Lokpal constitutional status. But they failed to solve some of the irritants on the way. They could not solve the problem of the CBI's provenance, whether it should come under the Lokpal, whether it should remain with the government as its chief investigating agency. And they wanted to create a model law for the Lokayuktas in states not taking into consideration the fact that 18 states had functioning Lok Ayuktas. It was typical Congress high-handedness, wanting to legislate for the country in the manner of an imperial central power at a time when the party is not in power in more than half the states of the union. Then there was the provision for 50 per cent of reservations in the Lokpal including religious minorities and women

The two major parties -- the Congress and the BJP -- are Lokpal votaries and that is what creates the problem. They did not want to have to a frank discussion in parliament whether Lokpal is the way to tackle the problem of corruption, and the discussion would have given them an opportunity to think afresh the institution of the ombudsman. Instead they got tangled in brambles.

Anna Hazare might have ended his fast, packed up his bags and gone home to Ralegan Siddhi. But he has left a storm in Delhi, in the seat of democracy. It shows the Congress, the BJP and the communists in a bad light, that they were pursuing a chimera called the Lokpal in a bid to mollify a maverick called Hazare egged on by professional protestors. It is the civil society's ultimate revenge on democratic institutions. There was furore in parliament, and it was triggered by a man on fast in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari said in despair: 'It is time to go home' at 12.02 am on Dec 30.

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