Anna storm sweeps India – War against corruption is ONby opinion express September 1, 2012 0 comments
27 Aug 2011, NEW DELHI: History was made in Parliament on Saturday when the two Houses bowed to Anna Hazare’s campaign, powered by a groundswell of popular support, for a strong and independent Lokpal. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha unanimously resolved that the Standing Committee would consider Anna’s three demands – including the lower bureaucracy in the Lokpal’s purview, a central law for creating Lok Ayuktas in states and a citizen’s charter for government departments providing public service. This finally paved the way for Anna’s 12-day fast to end.
This is the first instance of Parliament explicitly agreeing to accommodate demands raised by an ‘outsider’, that too when the official bill had already been moved. A jubilant Anna Hazare responded to Parliament’s endorsement of his demands by announcing that he would call off his fast at 10 am on Sunday. His aides promptly called upon the people to flock to Ramlila Maidan to participate in this victory of popular will. Later, the PM publicly threw his weight behind the reconciliation. “Parliament has spoken. Parliament’s will is the will of the people,” he said, bringing a closure to the standoff.
Parliament’s extraordinary gesture on Saturday brought out its capacity to adapt and innovate in response to an extraordinary expression of popular aspirations, reflected in the countrywide outpouring of support for Anna’s anti-corruption charter. A huge throng camped at Ramlila Maidan as Parliament debated Anna’s demands. The day also saw the much- maligned political class rise to the challenge. Speeches in both Houses were non-partisan, and effectively rebuffed anxieties about Parliament’s relevance or its preparedness to deal with graft.
The resolution adopted by the two Houses strikes a balance between the competing considerations of heeding the clamour for strong anti-corruption measures in the wake of a series of scams and the political class’s determination to not allow Parliament’s authority on law-making to be under- mined. Even as it conceded the Anna group’s demands, the resolution also made it plain that the procedure of the scrutiny of the law by the Standing Committee would not be scuppered. The resolution was the result of a remarkable display of give-and-take by all the protagonists. The government, which had staunchly resisted the civil society group’s efforts to dictate the shape of the Lokpal law, did not allow ego to come in the way as it changed tack. The PM, who said he was ready to walk the extra mile, did so at a crucial time when he overruled the naysayers to give his nod to a conciliatory resolution.
This was the second time in the week that the PM had taken charge of the government’s efforts, even if belated, to defuse the confrontation. On Wednesday, he had turned down the effort of his colleagues to re-open a resolution that he had worked out with the Opposition after an all-party meeting. The Opposition also matched the government’s conciliator y attitude. The speech of Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, was bereft of partisan considerations, and set the stage for non-acrimonious debate. In fact, at one point in Jaitley’s speech, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee asked the BJP leader to explain a finer legal point. Later, Jaitley along with L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj helped craft the resolution that passed muster with the civil society activists.
Team Anna, too, did not lag behind. The players who had been frequently accused of taking maximalist positions, chose to settle for a solution that did not quite meet their expectations. Prashant Bhushan, a dogged warrior in the court and outside, acknowledged that they would have preferred an iron-clad commitment. However, he expressed the hope that Parliament, having recognized the depth of anti-corruption feelings, would not resile on its commitment.
There are a thousand things wrong with our country. But every once in a while, something or someone comes along and restores, in some measure, our faith in the future. Even those who have had reservations about Anna Hazare’s form of protest — and there are many honest, intelligent and committed people among them – cannot discount the incredible impact he has had on Indian polity and society. He has tapped into a nation’s rising frustration and anger against corruption of the most scandalous proportions, and channeled it into a mass movement that has shaken the government to its foundation, and placed the entire political class on notice. Will the Lokpal bill be a panacea for all of India’s problems? As the Prime Minister has said on more than one occasion, there is no magic wand. But that cannot be a reason for us to do nothing. Anna Hazare has lit a fire. It’s for every one of us to keep the flame of hope alive.
Opinion from Indian Press….