From Lokpal to Jokepal


The term ‘Joke-pal’ has become more famous than Lokpal eversince Arvind Kejriwal accused the government of not taking the fight against corruption seriously. Notwithstanding unwavering civic society members going on amaranthine fasts, people sleeping in tents getting beaten up, the Lokpal certainly seems to have become a joke. The political parties have found a new topic to string along, to lampoon each other and embarrass themselves. They amuse themselves by participating in various talk shows and public debates by collecting claps and ignoring slaps of the ‘aam janta’ instead of addressing their problems.

Political parties with the cleanest of reputation too seem tainted with having intention of sorting personal grudges and serving self interest. I would be more than glad to back my statement with a quintessential example of NDA Vs. UPA.

It all started not so long ago when the NDA took advantage of the wavering stand that the government is taking on Lokpal and rightly accused them of wasting the people’s time, playing with their faith, being guilt-conscious, petrified by what may come out and so on and so forth. These allegations were very rightly directed at a government which despite having the least corrupt Prime Minister in the recent times has time and again disappointed the people. With money scams unfolding every day, the government sits relaxed in recliners with popcorn in one hand and diet coke in the other. But whom are these allegations put by, the glorified souls of NDA? They indiscriminately oppose the Government’s actions and make provocative statements like the one made by Gadkari in which he says, “Sonia Gandhi promising to fight corruption is akin to Pakistan promising to fight terrorism!” Sushma Swaraj gives a folk performance on a spiritual number displaying her support for the fight against corruption by throwing her hands in the air and turning and twisting her waist. I wish they had shown the same kind of support when they were in power and A.B. Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and a similar bill was proposed. I wonder what kept them back despite the fact that Vajpayee was in favour of both the bill and inclusion of the PM in the Lokpal ambit!

Their two-faced loyalty towards the cause isn’t convincing. The BJP has not only been accused of not taking a proper stand regarding the Lokpal Bill but have been challenged by the Congress to do so. On being asked for an opinion on Lokpal Bill, as a representative of a political party by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Nitin Gadkari reverted saying that it isn’t appropriate to ask for opinions before forming a final draft.

I apologise for calling the BJP two-faced, because there is a third side to it as well (phew!). We have seen the BJP supporting the movement after someone says rolling and action, not taking a stand when asked to and now we will see them resist the movement altogether. On May 31, Gadkari wrote a letter to P. Mukherjee which said that the Constitution is supreme and sovereignty lies with the Parliament. Stakeholders and interest groups should only be able to provide their views to the MPs and parties and not form them for them, upsetting the constitutional property. There is also a video of Uttarakhand’s CM (member of the BJP) discussing and staging Ramdev’s protest on phone with a ‘Babuji’. Thus it is indulging in the same thing they are accusing the Congress of. The only agenda that seems clear at the moment, of not only the BJP but also the Congress is to indulge in a typical hypocritical political slugfest, of course only till the time the camera lights are on.

The story though can’t be formed by those in front of the camera alone, the ones behind it knows when to say action and when to say cut! I am talking about the media, the ‘journalists’ and the ‘ TRP ethics’ that are followed today. In this country of ours where you and I are so tired of politicians and the scams that surround them we tend to look at the problem wearing horse blinders. We not only ignore the media’s contribution to the muddle but mistake it for a fight against wrong doers and corruption (like in this case). If politicians indulge in mud-racking to show the intention of the other party as malicious, the media too covers it for higher TRPs and to devoid another channel (newspaper or magazine) of the bliss of exclusive coverage. If this would not have been the case the cause taken up by Irom Sharmila for 10 years now wouldn’t still be rotting on a hospital bed.

The media is in constant search of prey and this time it has got the Lokpal Bill entangled in its teeth along with the Government. It is true that the idiot box doesn’t look that idiotic anymore with the attention shifting away from saas-bahu sagas with Ks and double Ks. But again, what is it moving towards? Everybody who watches the news today looks more angry and less informative, thanks to the trend of sensationalism! Instead of informing the public, the media is simply making them furious. Half of the people or even more than that won’t even know what the Lokpal is all about but would cheer and support everything and anything Anna says or decides to do. Just because we are fed up of corruption and the sound of ‘scam’ makes us nauseous and we have sought to an outlet of pure rage which is blocking our ability to look into the intricacies of the matter. Merely shouting hate slogans at a peace protest and throwing shoes at politicians isn’t the answer. Making a noise shouldn’t just end in soar throats but a noiseless future.

Himanshi Chaudhary