Lokpal and Anna Hazare
While we celebrate victory of people’s power through Anna Hazare, we feel proud to be a part of Indian democracy. After Mahatma Gandhi’s Freedom Movement and Jai Prakash Narayan’s movement against Indira Gandhi’s misrule, it is the third occasion when we ordinary Indians feel we have the power to humble an arrogant regime. Congratulations to all those who participated in Anna’s movement, physically or online, including Jago Party members who fasted in support of the movement in different cities across India on different days! Thanks also to the Internet technology which has given us a new weapon to fight by facilitating easy communication!
What lessons do we learn from this movement?
First of all, the present UPA regime is totally indifferent to people’s sentiments. They first shamelessly tried to ignore the demand for joint committee to discuss civil society’s Jan Lokpal Bill, but when they discovered the growing popularity of this demand, they immediately agreed! This means they never think in terms of national interest, but only in terms of vote banks! For the last 42 years, Congress had been dithering on this issue of Lokpal. So, it is obvious that they would again try to obstruct or dilute the Bill. Hence, we have to keep up the pressure. We have seen the success of people’s power and we would not hesitate to use it again.
Secondly, all of us have some doubts about whether the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill would really remove corruption. Jago Party firmly believes that it will definitely make corruption much less tempting. Why? Because chances of a corrupt babu or neta being detected and punished would be greatly enhanced by the proposed law. This is assured by the following features of the Bill:
1. No MP or MLA would ever be made Lokpal. The selection committee would consist of 2 senior most Judges of Supreme and High Courts each, Nobel Laureates of Indian origin, last 3 Magsaysay award winners, Chief Election Commissioner and CAG. The entire selection process would be through open advertisements and in a fully transparent manner. All this would ensure that no chamcha is selected as Lokpal.
2. Unlike ACB or CBI, Lokpal need not take permission from anybody to launch investigation or prosecution against any neta, babu or judge. In fact, ACB, CBI, CVC etc will be merged in the institution of Lokpal. So, Lokpal would become almost completely autonomous and fully empowered.
3. At present, no action is taken on citizens’ complaints. Lokpal will hear all complaints, investigate and prosecute concerned babus in a time bound manner. He could impose penalty of Rs 250 per day of delay to be deducted from the salary of the concerned babu and give it as compensation to the aggrieved person.
4. At present, there is nothing in the law to recover the ill gotten wealth. Lokpal will have powers to recover the loss to the government from the guilty. This would be in addition to minimum 5 years of jail or maximum life imprisonment.
So, we have reasons to hope that things will improve drastically with the implementation of the proposed law. Of course, systemic reforms such as state funding of elections, maximum privatization, tax reduction and cash subsidy would also be needed to reduce temptation to be corrupt in the first place.