KIRAN BEDI FORMALLY JOINS BJP: ANNA HAZARE IS MENTIONED IN SATIRICAL AND HUMOROUS COMMENTS – IRONY OF A MOVEMENT

Though it was long dead already, and what happened today was to happen sooner or later, thoughts went back there, in past, bringing the reflections back.

Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement of 2011 – one of the biggest civil movements of independent India – was launched successfully against its own elected government – but, unfortunately could not sustain – due to its own fault-lines. Much has been written about it.

We cannot say corruption engulfed it. In fact, we can still find many valid reasons to deny this proposition.

Yes, but we can say that one of the central reasons behind corruption – Indian politics of the day – led to its ‘efficient’ winding up.

And within three years, the movement has been buried deeply. No one talks about it. The mentions don’t go beyond occasional analytical pieces and discourses.

And the person who led it, who was the source behind the movement, who was the central plank around whom the movement and its campaign were designed by his ‘ardent follower of the day, Arvind Kejriwal and an outfit named ‘India Against Corruption” was being mentioned with satirical and humorous mentions today.

— By the acts of the people who used to be the core of the team behind the movement that made Anna Hazare a pan-India icon and an international figure and brought the members of ‘Team Anna’ in the socio-political thinking of the Indian masses.

The politicisation of the anti-corruption movement or to say political branching out of the anti-corruption movement that began with Arvind Kejriwal in 2012 reached to a full circle today with Kiran Bedi joining mainstream politics. We cannot say if there are other circles to come further on the way as almost of the big names of the movement, except few like Santosh Hegde, have taken the political plunge.

Majority of them went with Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party while those who alleged Arvind Kejriwal of compromising the movement chose to stay away. Kiran Bedi was the foremost among them.

And today, as was long expected, she emerged as the face of the party in direct confrontation with Arvind Kejriwal and AAP.

Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar, Shazia Ilmi, Kumar Vishwas – the essential names of the anti-corruption moment – are all political now.

Yes, some like Medha Patkar are continuing with their activism streak after losing the Lok Sabha polls, but most are fulltime politicians.

And even if we cannot place them, the neo-fulltime politicians, in the lot of the existing political class when it comes to corruption, they cannot be accommodated in our thoughts for the ‘team’ that made us to contribute to the anti-corruption movement of 2011.

The politics of AAP so far effectively tells us, that doesn’t behave differently. They are acting like the political class who India has always seen.

And yes, I tried to find ‘India Against Corruption’ on the internet, but it seems it doesn’t exist there any more.

Irony of changing India! Irony of Indian politics! Irony of political activism of India! Irony of India’s need for change agents!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THIS NIGHT 30 YEARS AGO, AROUND THIS HOUR: BHOPAL DISASTER

This night 30 years ago – the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 – around this hour (around 2 AM), the disaster was fully out to engulf lives.

Thousands were killed in the gas leak (Methyl Isocyanate – MIC) from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal – some 4000 to 16000 killed, depending on which report you want to believe in – and hundreds of thousands were crippled – around this hour of the night 30 years ago – generations were left ruined, reeling from the chemical effects of gas and their physiological impersonations.

Bhopal Disaster is an unmatched tale of unison of corporate greed and government apathy that polluted the thinking of the then ruling regime in the Mahatma’s land to the extent that they colluded with the perpetrators of the Disaster to ship the main culprit, the then Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson, out of India, never to return again.

30 years later, the rehabilitation process is still not complete.

30 years later, there are victims still awaiting the compensation.

30 years, it is still an unending nightmare.

To make the circus of governance and accountability more obnoxious, 26 years later, in 2010, the then India CEO of Union Carbide and some other employees were sentenced two years in jail with a fine of $2000, for causing ‘death due to negligence’ – the maximum possible sentence as the extant Indian laws.

‘Death due to negligence’ had never sounded so crippled before it.

Shouldn’t the whole System including its top leadership be tried for the negligence that brought this disaster to us?

Shouldn’t the whole System including its top leadership be tried for the negligence that made the rehabilitation process an endless humiliation?

Shouldn’t the whole System including its top leadership be tried for colluding with corporate greed and being a party in Warren Anderson’s escape?

30 years of the tragedy – Bhopal Disaster – one of the worst man-made industrial disasters killing and affecting scores of human lives – the questions remain – waiting for answers – in Delhi, in Bhopal, in India, even in the US (even if Warren Anderson is no more) – for the last 30 years..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE QUESTIONS AFTER SUPREME COURT’S ORDER ON RANJIT SINHA REMOVING HIM FROM 2G PROBE

THE QUESTIONS

1. It is unprecedented. It is the first time that the Supreme Court has intervened to the extent in removing the director of a central investigating agency from a probe that is working on. Can we term it judicial activism or the Supreme Court was forced to do after the apex court’s patience was tested enough by the CBI director?

2. But, shouldn’t have this decision come much before given the fact that it has come almost three months after the visitor diary of CBI chief’s residence containing details of visits of people facing probe in 2G and coal-blocks allocation cases was put in public domain and the Supreme Court attention was drawn to it?

3. Shouldn’t have the CBI chief recused himself from the 2G probe when the allegations surfaced in the first place? Should he step down now?

4. Isn’t it too late given the fact that Ranjit Sinha is finishing his term as the CBI director on December 2, just after 12 days from now, and removing him from the 2G probe cannot alter the functional grounds of the investigation process now?

5. Should the government wait and let Ranjit Sinha finish his term or it should act after the Supreme Court’s order on Ranjit Sinha on moral grounds?

6. If the decision doesn’t hold for the technical elements of the investigation now given his term is ending, what is the symbolic message that it conveys?

7. ‘CBI is a caged parrot and set it free’ – Ranjit Sinha had famously demanded once. It opened a Pandora’s box of debates given the fact that CBI thoroughly enjoyed the reputation of being a central investigating agency controlled and manipulated by the parties in power. Will the Supreme Court’s decision to remove him from the 2G probe prove an effective reminder in that direction?

8. When Ranjit Sinha had demanded so, it sounded hollow as coming from a person who had faced allegations of being biased and favouring politicians and whose appointment had a streak of controversy behind it. Hasn’t the Supreme Court decision today proved the controversy justified?

9. Supreme Court went as far as in setting the seriousness of its observations while removing Ranjit Sinha by saying that it was not passing a detailed order as it would hurt CBI’s reputation. What does it tell to the government given the fact that Ranjit Sinha is finishing his term and a new CBI director is to be appointed?

10. Don’t we need to relook at the debate on CBI’s autonomy in the context of the Supreme Court decision today?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JAYALALITHAA CONVICTED IN DA CASE: AS EXPECTED, TEARS ARE OUTPOURING! (SPILLING OVER)!

The flow becomes copious and tries to stuff in as many points of the loyalty bonus as possible when the camera pans towards them!

Jayalalithaa, the ‘immensely’ popular Tamil Nadu chief minister, who rode back to the corridors of power in 2011, and repeated her electoral success in Lok Sabha elections this year, almost wiping out the main political opposition party in the state, the DMK, has been convicted in a DA case (or the disproportionate assets case –a term brought in vogue by the deeds of the Indian politicians facing corruption charges).

She was convicted today by a judge of a Special Court hearing her case in Bangalore, out of Tamil Nadu, on a plea, after she took over the reins of the state. She was convicted today in yet another corruption case, by a trial court, after 18 long years. Yes, like in the past, she can expect to walk out free from the higher courts, but that comes later.

And unlike in the past, she cannot remain the chief minister now, given a recent landmark Supreme Court order, that imposes the restrictions immediately after the ‘being guilty’ verdict is announced.

So, after 18 years – 18 long years, she is facing the jail term again, and see, who is celebrating in Tamil Nadu, another political family facing charges and allegations of huge corruption and misappropriations – the Karunanidhi family, as the charges and the ongoing probes say – many prominent DMK faces were in jail like Kanimozhi, Karunanidhi’s daughter or A Raja, former Telecom Minister. In fact, most of the central figures and the first political families in majority of the Indian states are facing corruption allegations/charges.

While writing this, the suspense over her sentencing continues. According to the legal experts, the minimum term that she faces in prison is one year, while the gravity of the charges and the subsequent judicial interpretation by the presiding judge can stretch it to the maximum under the terms of her conviction – seven years.

As of now, the unconfirmed reports say of a four year term and that she would go to jail tonight.

And as expected, as has been the trend in the politics of the South Indian states in such circumstances, the painted up faces and the made up emotions have taken up their positions. As expected, tears are outpouring and the administrative machinery is geared up to tackle the incidents of violence against the verdict of a democratic institution.

Amma’s (Jayalalithaa’s) supporters are crying out their hearts and it becomes louder and more vocal when facing cameras – Glycerine tears, like many claimed suicides after the sudden death of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister in a helicopter crash on September 2, 2009?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

UNCOMMONNESS OF THE COMMON MAN IN THE POLL SEASON

India is a constitutionally proclaimed Republic where the basic unit of everything that goes into the concept of a democratic nation is the ‘common man’.

But, over the years, passing through the ages, the public of this Republic, looking for known or familiar addresses, was pushed, comfortably and consciously, to a fallacious state of mind of ‘being supreme to the cause of an India ruled by its political elite’.

The symbolism of a ‘high and mighty’ Republic of compromised public began right in 1947 with Jawaharlal Nehru’s epoch-defining midnight ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech.

We were born a troubled nation.

And though we had great many luminaries when we began, we faltered. In spite of their profound wisdom and good intent, some of the soldiers of the Indian Freedom Movement caused acidic damage to the concept of a true Republic, affecting the chances of ensuring a healthy democratic atmosphere for its public. And we continued to falter.

Until now!

It seems good days are coming.

The ‘Aam Aadmi’, the ubiquitous, quintessential, conspicuously insignificant common man was never so ‘uncommon’ for Indian politicians.

Until now, corruption, the arterial malaise of the Indian social weaving, had failed to become the central poll plank of any of the General Elections (Lok Sabha polls) of India barring few occasions when sentiments ran high like the Bofors Scam case and its impact on the electoral outcomes.

And corruption has become so ‘common manly’ in India that it has effectively pushed to the margins any remote chance of the common man being the central poll plank of elections beyond the centrality of the symbolism of a Republic of the common men (subservient to the democratic interests of the political elite).

But as an apolitically political party (the Aam Aadmi Party) has made a stunningly successful political electoral debut in Indian politics riding high on the poll planks of common man and corruption, and is threatening the other masters of the game in spite of its languishing political show on performing on governance in Delhi, the common man is getting all the attention that he has been missing for so many years, from the master, and from their entourage.

But, let’s don’t get high to let the symbolism befool us again. Let’s keep questioning.

So is it the time to say ‘until now’?

Is it the ‘high time’ or is it going to be just yet another daydream, a failed experiment, a futile

What are the developments that help us daydream it or push us hoping so?

Watch out..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ADARSH SCAM REPORT REJECTED: RAHUL GANDHI JUST MISSED YET ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

Symbolically shambolic or shambolically symbolic! – “Biggest issue is corruption, it is an unacceptable burden on our people. We must fight corruption”

Rahul Gandhi, was, again, delivering a speech remixing the verbal elements of his speechmaking which we have become so familiar with. He was discussing the problems of India with corporate leaders. And he again spoke on corruption, in his usual style, talking big, when the acts of the many of the Congress leaders directly defy his words. In fact, if we go by the need to set the precedent, even his family needs to come clean on corruption allegations on Robert Vadra, his brother-in-law.

Anyway, that is the regular, usual stuff, keeps on happening, and keeps on defying Rahul’s words.

This time, the push for writing this came from a coincidental turn of events involving Rahul Gandhi, Congress, a speech on corruption and an act of corruption cover-up.

On December 20, the Adarsh Housing Society scam report was tabled in the Maharashtra assembly and summarily rejected by the state government. The chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan, considered relatively clean on corruption, didn’t give any reason.

The report was prepared by a two-member commission (Adarsh Commission) headed by a retired Justice of the Bombay High Court, JA Patil, to look into the allegations of corruption and irregularities in the construction of Adarsh Housing Cooperative Society in Mumbai.

The report indicted four farmer Maharashtra chief ministers and Congress politicians including Sushilkumar Shinde, the Union Home Minister now, and Ashok Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh, former chief ministers of Maharashtra. With many bureaucrats, the report also indicted two influential NCP politicians who are ministers in the Maharashtra cabinet.

This happened on December 20, Friday.

On December 21, Saturday, Rahul addressed the corporate leaders at FICCI Annual General Meeting, talking big again on corruption.

How hollow, how disconnected such statements sound when the reality defies them upfront; when the reality and such statements by Rahul Gandhi become extremes to bridge the gap?

It is as counterfeit as Congress rushing to take credit of passing the Lokpal Bill even if the Congress is the main culprit to let the Bill linger for almost 45 years!

“Corruption is bleeding our people dry. It is an unacceptable burden on the people of our nation. We must fight corruption with all our strength and determination” – how could Rahul speak so, on December 21, addressing the FICCI AGM – just a day after his party’s government and chief minister rejected an impartial judicial commission report on a scam that shook the nation and cost a chief minister his chair?

It was really an opportunity missed and it also tells Rahul and Congress didn’t learn anything from the recent poll humiliations in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and from AAP’s unprecedented victory in Delhi. On December 8 evening, Rahul Gandhi had conceded the defeat saying his party needed to learn from AAP. Corruption and anti-establishment demands anti- the ‘present system of governance’ were the major poll planks of AAP, or the Aam Aadmi Party.

Had it been a serious thought on December 8 evening when the election results of four states were announced, we would not have seen happening what happened on December 20 in Maharashtra.

The time is running out. Talking big and talking radical is not going to help. Such a veil cannot be maintained for long and the prevailing political circumstances make it imperative for Rahul and Congress to change when the electorate is ready for political experiments like AAP. Yes, AAP is not beyond valid reasons of doubt, but it is certainly a point to begin.

Rahul and Congress need to act now, and given the mess, the political abyss, they are in, they need to act radically.

Adarsh Commission report could have been an opportunity to begin but it has been missed. A positive approach on the Adarsh Commission enquiry report, indicting big names, would certainly be a fitting, radical anti-corruption step taken.

The ‘change in politics’ that Rahul Gandhi has been talking about, even more repeatedly after his elevation as the Congress Vice-president, needs ‘politics of change’ that is much bigger than saving a Sushilkumar Shinde.

Mr. Gandhi you must, (if not react on), read and think over what Justice Patil said on rejection of his report: “We have a clear idea in our mind of what happened (referring to the Adarsh scam). Based on that we submitted our report after recording the evidence of several witnesses and perusing relevant documents. The findings were not palatable to the government and hence it must have been rejected.”

Start acting. It is already too late!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LOKPAL: THE ‘COMPROMISED’ BILL IS LOGICAL ENOUGH TO BEGIN WITH

We are always free to demand for more and we will..

There have been debates and there will be debates on effectiveness of the just passed Lokpal Bill, to create an anti-corruption ombudsman. Some would dismiss. Some would extol. Some would remain skeptical and would prefer to wait and watch.

What was being demanded by the civil society was not a practical one. What was being given by the government was not an acceptable one.

But, the Bill passed ‘finally’ by the Indian Parliament on December 18, can be seen, more or less as an acceptable one to begin with. Broadly, it paves the way for an ombudsman that if implemented in time, with proper infrastructure and with supportive legislations like the Citizen Charter Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill and the Whistleblowers Protection Bill can prove really effective in spite of the reservations over many of its provisions.

The need is to develop a good ecosystem with all these constituents. Yes, we all know it’s easier said than done. And given the prevalence of political opportunism in India, we know it’s not going to be easy.

But, at least, we have a point to begin now.

The fight has been a long and circuitous one and this outcome should not be seen as a washout and should not be rejected outright. The Bill was to be passed and was to be enacted if we had to move ahead, from planning to implementations stage.

And if it could happen so, finally, after 45 or 50 years, any which way we want to look at it, it owes much to the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011, especially its April and August legs that bolsters the feeling the Indians are learning to express their displeasure more and more expressively, more and more aggressively.

And that is a point to reflect on, to hope positively that an anti-corruption ecology around the Lokpal, with some other corresponding laws, can be created.

The basic requirement is the pressure from the public and its manifestation. It is good that public is increasingly expressing itself, more and more, and spontaneously, with or without a leader, as happened during the 2011 anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, as happened during the huge leaderless public protests in the aftermath of December 16 Delhi gangrape and recently in the unprecedented electoral mandate to the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi assembly polls, a party that fought on the issue of corruption and successfully exploited the public sentiments mobilized after the 2011 anti-corruption movement.

So, there is an ecology of pressure being built up. And on its target are the present ways of administration and governance by the mainstream political parties of India.

On the face of it, there are many good points in the Lokpal Bill/Act cleared. It has power to prosecute. It can check every government official including the prime minister. The process of Lokpal’s appointment and dismissal is fairly logical.

These basic rules to establish and govern the institution of the anti-corruption ombudsman are broad enough to give it a good enough space to breath, to make others suffocate.

See the good precedent set by the Election Commission of India and the Comptroller & Auditor General of India, both chosen by the Indian government. The regularly increasing voter turn-out election after election and clean and violence-free elections or consistent reports putting the government on back-foot on corruption and scams like 2G, different land and defense deals have become benchmarks of the Indian Democracy.

So, there is no reason to dismiss the Lokpal even before it starts working, when it has good enough autonomy to begin with.

It is true it is a ‘compromised’ bill with politicians putting their ‘sincere’ efforts to dilute it as much as they could in the prevailing sociopolitical scenario. So, there is some tough fighting ahead to iron out the difficulties once the institution gets operational. Even in that case, it would be much easier to bring amendments to introduce the required element of reform than not having the Lokpal at all.

One of the most talked about omissions is excluding the lower bureaucracy from Lokpal’s purview areas. That is a concern area but it is not something that can not be added later provided there is intent or there is pressure to do so.

If public pressure can panic the politicians to the extent that they can pass the Bill in just 10 days after Congress routing in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and AAP’s grand entry in Delhi in the election results announced on December 8, it can certainly push them to do so.

While a government of an outfit like AAP should happily, on its own, weed out the weaker elements, even a government of any of the mainstream political party would not be able to skirt the demand then, in an environment of a more aware electorate and more alert activists amid an increasing presence of alternative political parties and politicians like AAP or Arvind Kejriwal. AAP’s success in Delhi is bound to give India more of honest, young and unorthodox politicians in the days to come.

Alternatively, there can be this relevant afterthought. Corruption has made every part of the Indian administrative and governance machinery largely sluggish and docile.

As it affects every sphere of Indian life, its social, political and commercial activities, it has exported corruption to almost every section of Indian society, free of caste, class, religion and regional divides. It has made corruption interdependent and interrelated.

So, in a way, if we say, if we can check the corruption in the government at top level, setting some tough precedents, it can set in motion a ripple effect, that, though will take time, will trickle down to other participants, the NGO people, the lower-ranked bureaucracy and the corporate people, who are not covered under the Lokpal Act.

If there can be a check at the top level corruption, and if there can be some tough and landmark punitive action taken, some examples on this line, it will send down a clear message.

Also, when the government corruption at top level would see its avenues to earn easy money being squeezed out, it would certainly feel unhappy to see others still milking the cow.

Nothing like rocket science in thinking so – if they cannot eat, they will not let others eat – if they cannot earn easy money – they will not let others do so – the forced honesty!

So, in checking them, they would be more and more impartial, would be increasingly objective and detached.

Just an afterthought!

But I am not daydreaming folks! The Lokpal is here and that is a good sign; that is a logical reason to prepare for the next stage of the fight – to let it evolve into an effective institution.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LOKPAL BILL PASSED: IN 10 DAYS FLAT!

The Lok Sabha passed the Lokpal Bill yesterday paving the way for its implementation. Implementation – that is the big, another complicated battle lying next.

Passage of a ‘compromised’ bill with some good and some ‘can and to be manipulated’ features is just half the battle won.

And the day comes after 45 years if we begin with 1968 when a related legislation was tried for the first time in the Indian Parliament or it may be after 50 years if we take the first discussion on an anti-corruption ombudsman in 1963 in the Indian Parliament as the point to begin.

And see the brazenness of the political class who kept delaying it for so long, for five decades, is now singing paeans of its efforts, of being the anti-corruption champions.

Now who is going to tell them again that we are not fools? Okay, we, as electors, have acted and act erratically and foolishly every now and then, but many of us are not fools.

Yes, we didn’t have options. All in the political lot were similar. So many of us didn’t vote or if voted, we went for the best of the available, even if we were not satisfied.

We needed option. NOTA is now one. Yes, we cannot say the Aam Aadmi Party way is an option but its remarkable electoral show in Delhi tells us and everyone in clear terms that anti-corruption is the central poll plank and is going to play big in the upcoming general elections scheduled for next April-May.

The AAP show tells the politicians about centrality of corruption as ‘the’ poll plank and to ‘look’ sincere on anti-corruption measures. And this centrality forced the mainstream political parties to go into a huddle, to form an ‘alliance’ to pass the Lokpal Bill, and that too, in 10 days flat.

Yes, 10 days, since December 8, when the assembly election results of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were announced, results that gave AAP, the one-year old political debutant, 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly making it the second largest party after BJP’s 31 seats. And AAP’s success has its origin in the hugely successful anti-corruption movement of 2011 for Lokpal led by Anna Hazare the epicenter of which was Delhi.

The aspect that is to be seen here is how the politicians came back to their tricks of delaying the Bill once the anti-corruption movement got derailed in 2012. In spite of passing a lame and inefficient bill in Lok Sabha in December 2011, they were not sincere to pass even this diluted version, and they did not present it, debated it or pass it, until the assembly election results of December 8, when they were slapped hard by the electorate on the issue of corruption.

Before this, their arrogance was dismissing the corruption plank, the anti-corruption movement was being seen as long dead and they were back to treat the Indian masses having short memory believing they would forget the acts of political corruption soon.

Had it been for a poor show by AAP in Delhi, even Anna Hazare’s ongoing fast would not have ensured such a ‘lightening fast’ passage of the Lokpal Bill by the Indian Parliament.

But the Delhi public had an option this time that was ‘unlike’ the others in the political fraternity and though yet to be proven, it went for them.

And that forced the mainstream political class to scramble to ‘at least look sincere’ on coming down heavily on corruption and this forced-necessity pushed them to pass the ‘compromised’ Lokpal Bill, the many provisions of which can still be killer for the corrupt politicians and officials, in a hurry, because there is no time left in the big political battle, the Lok Sabha polls.

Their scare and not their commitment that the centrality of corruption as the poll issue may reflect across the country in the 2014 general elections made them pass the bill in such haste.

And dear political folks, we realise it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LOKPAL, LALU AND CONGRESS-RJD ALLIANCE: THE POLITICAL CACOPHONY CONTINUES

On one side, there is going to be this rat-race to take credit on who got the Lokpal loaded finally into the enactment line of the legislative procedure, with a rush to loot the ‘certificate’ of being the anti-corruption harbinger in a country where corruption has been at alarming levels and where it is has just found the status of being the central poll plank to become the dominant factor in the Indian elections with Aam Aadmi Party’s stunning debut in Delhi, ironically, the events happening concurrently, once again confirm, on the same day, the duplicitous nature of these claimants and their make-shift honest intentions.

Though, there is an amicable atmosphere prevailing right now in sharing the mileage from the outcome, it is bound to get stinky as the Lok Sabha polls approach near. And the ones in the ruling coalition, who will be crying over the top in taking the credit – their acts, on the day itself, were defying their very intent.

Consider this.

Lalu Yadav, who has been convicted and sentenced with five years of imprisonment under anti-corruption charges leveled against him in the much publicized Fodder Scam of Bihar, is given a grand welcome, after he walks out of jail after getting bail from the Supreme Court, after spending 8 weeks in the jail.

There was elation. There was jubilation. And there was celebration. One could not say if there was anything demoralizing being felt on his part, in the camp of Lalu Yadav, the former Bihar chief minister and the former rail minister. It seemed after being convicted and jailed, Lalu has got his acceptability even more increased.

And this Lalu says Sonia Gandhi, the number one in Congress, in the UPA and in the government and politically the most powerful person in India (save some big corporate names) called him to express her happiness on getting bail and walking out of jail. A Times of India report quoted him: “Congress president Sonia Gandhi had telephoned me after my release from Ranchi jail. She graciously extended greetings to me and expressed happiness over my release, Prasad told reporters.”

Okay, we do not have any right to comment on if it is a personal matter. But once it gets into the domain of forging political alliances, it becomes a public matter. And the way Lalu is speaking on forging alliance with Congress and supporting the Congress PM candidate for the upcoming general elections gives us valid reason to raise questions.

It is sure we are going to have another addition in list of repetitions that Rahul would tells us again and again in his electoral rallies – we gave you the Lokpal, we passed the Lokpal Bill, like he claims about RTI, Food Bill and other policy measures.

How pathetic, how phony, how ironic it would sound then claiming to be the anti-corruption crusaders while forging alliances with those convicted by the courts for their corrupt activities!

But, then, it not the first time for them, the politicians! Isn’t it?

Yes, but the two developments coincided ironically on the same day, when reported today, giving us yet another reason to remain beware of the difference between what our politicians say and what they do; to remain alert to the disconnect between their promises and their intent.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ANNA HAZARE’S RENEWED CALL FOR LOKPAL

Anna Hazare has begun his fast, again, to demand the enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Though it made for peripheral headlines, and it didn’t mobilize the crowds to be there at his fast venue in his village Ralegan Siddhi in great numbers, and so it didn’t make for the lenses of the media already overworked with the deadlock on the government formation in Delhi after a hung-assembly verdict on December 8.

But the effect of AAP’s stunning victory in Delhi was clearly visible in the responses by the main political parties, Congress and BJP.

The Congress-led UPA government was guarded in its response after the drubbing it had in the recently held assembly polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. PMO Minister V Narayansamy said on the day-1 of Anna Hazare’s fast that the government had written to the Rajya Sabha chairman for tabling of the Lokpal Bill.

Anna Hazare himself had recently told of a letter written to him by the Union Government a week ago detailing its stand on the Lokpal Bill and reiterating its commitment (not to be take at face-value) for the Bill in Winter Session of the Parliament.

And BJP, too, was not away. On day-2 of Anna Hazare’s fast, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, wrote to Anna Hazare expressing party’s commitment for the Lokpal Bill blaming the Congress party of diluting the Bill and backtracking on its promise to pass the Bill.

The Parliament is in session. All five days so far have been washed out. Issues like Telangana, Communal Violence Bill and JPC report on 2G Spectrum Scam are expected to maintain the logjam.

And anyway, even if the Lokpal as proposed by the government is tabled in the Rajya Sabha, it doesn’t ensure its passage. There are many bottleneck points where the political parties still differ.

Also, the government Lokpal, passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2011, if institutionalized, is going to be a toothless entity, much different from the Jan Lokpal sought by Anna Hazare and the activists from the civil society associated with it. True, what is being sought by the civil society is not practical, but it is also equally true that what is being given by the government, is nothing more than a misleading exercise.

Politicians don’t look to pass even this ‘diluted’ Bill. Sitting over it for two years, after the high of the anti-corruption movement of 2011, from December 2011 to December 2013, clearly tells of their intentions.

But what makes it different this time is AAP’s brilliant but unexpected performance (for the mainstream political parties) in Delhi elections, a clear message to the political lot that public is looking for political change and is ready to experiment.

It is true the existing political lot is very thick-skinned but the timing of the next general elections, due next April-May, also makes it difficult for them to ignore this warning signal.

So, expect some verbal exercises from them, looking sincere and working to present and pass the Lokpal Bill in the ongoing session of the Parliament.

But, the fight remains. Even if the government’s Lokpal is passed, the next stage of the fight then will be to make it a ‘practically’ viable entity than can work effectively to check and prevent corruption.

It was good to see Arvind Kejriwal talking of supporting Anna’s movement during his victory rally at Jantar-Mantar in Delhi today. He said that he was going to Ralegan Siddhi tomorrow and would act the way Anna wanted. Though on separate paths now, Arvind Kejriwal and AAP should participate actively in Anna’s agitation, to payback for leaving the anti-corruption movement of 2011 midway!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/