Are We Blindly Opting for the Wrong Lokpal?

Two facts.

One :

“Consider this man: He runs a village in rural Maharashtra as if it is his personal fiefdom, like an authoritarian feudal lord. He is a fan of Shivaji, and admires him for once chopping off the hands of a man who committed a crime. In that vein, he passes an order that anyone found drinking alcohol will be tied to a pole in front of the village temple and publicly flogged. Several men undergo this, one of whom, a vice sarpanch of the village, says: “I was drinking. I was … tied to the pole and flogged two-three times. It is normal. [He] will try to make you understand once or twice and thereafter, he will beat you badly.” He believes in “rigid implementation” of family planning, including forced vasectomies. Male labourers in his village are paid Rs 50 a day, while female labourers get just Rs 30. He supports Narendra Modi, and is politically active, routinely resorting to a form of blackmail known as threatening to fast unto death until his demands are met. He believes that corrupt people should be hanged — literally hanged to death. He is Anna Hazare.
(Courtesy Amit Varma’s article)


Did you know that the BJP once demanded a fixed tenure for the Lok Sabha, without its dissolution mid-term? This would have ensured that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet would stay in power, no matter what they did! And today, the same party is calling for a “strong” Lokpal Bill; is meeting the so called “civil society activists”; and is feeding slogans and one liners about the present government – all in the name of being just and reasonable!”

Today, I see people lining up behind “Team Hazare” and so passionately voicing their demands about the Lokpal bill. Why? Just because they are angry about scams? Just because they think that the PM is weak? Just because they have so much about the inflating prices?**(Please read the footnote on these matters) But what about the relevance? What do they know about the Lokpal bill? They have been told about the pros of including the PM, the Judiciary and certain other bodies under the provisions of their draft. But have they been told about the negatives, which by the way are much more serious? The people, as a UPA minister rightly put it, are again being no more sensible than the rats which blindly followed the Pied Piper in the fairy tale.

How the “civil society activists” are blackmailing the government :-

First it was Anna Hazare and then Swami Ramdev. They took the liberty to choose an issue, make a circus out of it and then blackmail the government against it. Their supporters took the liberty of comparing them with the likes of Mahatma Gandhi! (Although there are several other people that I am reminded of when I see both Anna Hazare and Swami Ramdev)

And both these activists hardly have any rights to do any of what they are doing. Baba Ramdev’s brand of yoga has frequently come under questions from leading medical experts across the globe. The man could not even survive for a week without food after climing trying on nnumerous occassionsoccasions that he could go fasting for months with the power of his yoga. Ramdev has been known to publicly declare his political ambitions some years ago and yet has gone on to “selflessly” protest “on people’s behalf”! He did not even book the venue or disclose his real intentions for such an “honest” cause! What did he have to hide? Did he know he was doing something wrong and he would not be allowed to do it?

But more astounding were his claims about the “black money” in “Swiss banks” and the purilepuerile way he went about demanding an immediate return of such funds! Did he have any ideas how to do it himself? Or did he know that doing it, at least doing it instantly was nearly impossible and yet decided to hold tghe government at ransom? Or can he at least tell us all one thing > After knowing that in our country there are thousands of ways in which one can either conceal the illegal money or can fully convert it to legal funds; where people do not even pay taxes because they have several ‘jugaads’ to save money; where several people have been known to hold large lumps of wealth and property and yet legally survive on a meagre salary; why would someone take the trouble of going to foreign banks? (In fact that could be one thing that we do not tend to copy from the movies!) No, I am not saying that there isn’t any money out there. And no one knows the exact figure but one can safely presume that it would at least not amount to a sum being projected by Baba’s camp. And that all that hullabulloo was just not worth it!

As for Hazare, even after reading the opening of this post, one must do his/her own research about the man. Last I heard, he was objecting to the government’s acts of unearthing his past involvements in shady activities. Well, first of all there must have been something to unearth! And secondly, if he has nothing to hide, why be afraid of anything?

Why people have diluted their right to such demands :-

We are talking about the Lokpal Bill, in which the people will make the important wing. People! The general public! They are assumed to be mature, knowledgeable, patient and understanding enough to handle such responsibility. In our country where people cannot treat the cricket team maturely, where people create riots over movies and where the media can sway people’s opinion at the click of a remote-control’s button; how can any sensible person talk about letting people question the PM and the judiciary?

And when you elect the government that is in power, when you have an opposition to check it, when you have the provision to bring the government down anytime during its term; then why this added check? And talking about electing a government, half the population of the country does not bother to vote! And yet they are ready to coin slogans for the Lokpal bill!!
They say they don’t have the right candidates so they don’t care to vote. So, a) why can’t they stand in the election; and b) is that really the case or is that a common excuse? And if you really want to revolutionise politics in the country, why don’t you push for a bill which would ensure that only after a necessary percentage of people has cast the votes, that there will be any further process to form a government. So people will and will have to vote. Plus this will also ensure that the political parties field the right candidates to get people to vote else face a political deadlock.

Why cannot people come up on their own with their own ideas? Why do they have to be shown a way which they will blindly follow in the name of removing corruption?

Why the PM should not come under the check of the Lokpal :-

Why should he? Can you name any one PM that we have had who we did not trust? Just one?

In a democracy like ours, the PM hold the prime position in all matters of the day. He is elected by the people, he is eligible to questioning in the parliament; and he is the representative of all the actions taken by the government. In reality, however, things are a bit more twisted. The PM heads a government formed by several parties, whose support he needs in the parliament to have a majority. So more than often, he has to give in to certain demands of these parties. He is also held responsible for every action that any minister might be doing in his cabinet – even those ministers who had to be installed on demands by supporting parties!

Vajapayee spent a major chunk of his tenure trying to calm either Mamta Bannerjee or Jayalalitha down to maintain his majority. Singh has had to make peace with the demands of the Left parties earlier and now the DMK in his government. At times he has even gone against them on the most important matters (which is why the Nuclear Deal is in and Karunanidhi’s daughter is in the jail). This is always the case. The PM has to work ‘despite’ these provisions, not always ‘with’ them. So one can see how he is already under such complexities. And now there are demands to put a further check on him with the Lokpal provisions! What power would he be left with after that? Why would he remain the “Prime” minister and not a “Common” minister?

Grant the wishes of Team Hazare and you will give power to any unethical mind to misuse it and uselessly irritate and distract the PM. Not that the media and the opposition are already doing a bad job at that!

In our constitution, there is a provision to allow people “accused” of a crime to still contest elections if they are not “proven guilty”. Some people might not be able to make sense out of this provision and may call this ridiculous. But actually, it is very practical. Had this provision not been there, any political leader could have got his opposing leader accused of any crime by the various illegal means and got him disqualified from contesting elections! When the makers of the constitution had so much sense to make such provisions, why cannot the people today realise that putting the PM under the purview of the Bill would allow anyone to arm-twist him?

Why should the Judiciary be left out too :-

The Judiciary, by definition, has to be independent in order to function properly. It has to be accountable only to the Constitution of the country – not to the police, not to the government, not to the media and not to the public either!

If the judiciary starts to function knowing it could be held to questions for its verdicts, how on earth is it expected to give a fearless, unbiased judgement on anything? And with the judicial procedures already known to be so lengthy and tiring, why add an added check to prolong things? What if the verdict of a case or the tenure of a judge (and theus the judgements he passed) are questioned by the lokpal? Will those judgements be nullified/frozen temporarily till the lokpal gets a verdict? Won’t this complicate matters even more?
And if the “civil society” activists don’t even trust the judiciary, where do they want justice to come from? What if they find a person guilty under their own provisions? Where do they take him for justice? And what if that case also comes under questioning by another lokpal sitting? Will there be any place to go for absolute judgement??

What if we let Team Anna have its way :-

Utter confusion!

What could be said about the country whose highest minister is also not trustworthy? When people trust just no office in the country, what are the chances of the country to achieve anything? Where do he people go for justice when the judiciary also cannot function without the fear of being questioned for its decisions? Will anything be absolute in such a country??
If a minister is found to be guilty, who will conduct enquiries against him? Because they even want bodies like CBI to come under the purview of their provisions. So if they don’t trust the CBI, why let it do its job? And if you do, why question it?

In the state of such a chaos, matters will no longer be in the hands of any government or authority but the say on all matters will slip into the hands of a parallel government which, I will not be surprised to see headed by the very people themselves who advocate Jan Lokpal today, or by their pawns.

If the lokpal is implemented, who knows who will use it for what? The demand for Jharkhand was supposed to be a people’s movement. But what has happened to it today? In the name of people (who are just so easy to find, influence and include in any cause whatsoever!) power has been changing hands, much to the misery of the same people who once blindly fought for it. A Chief Minister can hardly see through a term and every single area of life and administration lies in tatters. It has not even been a decade and there have been scams in the range of 4000 crores already! The same people who included the masses to get their way, are now sitting atop a plump pie. The masses do not concern them now.

And here we are talking about a similar shift in power. Not in a state. In the entire country.
People have a habit of forgetting. In the name of corruption, they have come together to scream slogans and paint banners, thinking they are fighting for a cause… but they don’t realise that they will have a bigger price to pay for all of it someday.

So no such body, then? :-
No. There has to be accountability. Of course! Without accountability and the fear of punishment, nothing will change. However, we must be clear as to what we ask for as we will also have to face what it leads to. Most provisions that the activists have been demanding are rightfully correct. However, the office of the PM, the Judiciary and bodies like CBI should be kept out of any such bill. Having said that, however, I will say that the bill should also provide for a provision that says that the person serving in the PM’s chair can be held accountable for his actions after he exits office. The Judiciary and CBI, however should be exempted from such a provision.

Of course, there is corruption and of course there is a need for change. But that does not mean we flow in like a blind herd assuming anybody to be our leader on any terms! The time demands us to be wise and judicious in our approach.

There is still time to choose. Do so wisely!

Jai Hind!

Rohit Rohan