Out of sheer jealousy and to settle a score with Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare decided to sit on fast demanding the passage of Lokpal Bill to draw the attention of public and media toward him.
By Rakesh Raman
Call it his desire to abruptly break his anti-corruption fast and quickly grab a morsel of food or his jealousy with his old companion Arvind Kejriwal who showed impressive results in his debut elections, the self-styled anti-corruption boss Anna Hazare has let down the people who had high hopes from him.
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Hazare decided to end his fast that he began nine days ago to get the Lokpal Bill (a legislation to fight corruption in India) passed by Indian Parliament. Hazare ended his fast saying that the Bill which Parliament passed Wednesday is okay by him.
However, it’s believed to be a toothless instrument that will hardly be effective to combat mounting corruption in India. Among its various flaws, the Bill authorizes the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, and leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha as members of a committee to select Lokpal (an anti-corruption ombudsman).
But the question is: When both the ruling party Congress and the opposition party BJP are neck-deep in corruption, why will they select an honest Lokpal to get caught? Even if there are other members in the Lokpal selection committee, they won’t dare to go against the preference of the Prime Minister and opposition leader.
The new Bill also threatens complainants of corruption cases with severe penalties including fine and imprisonment if their complaints are found false. But when the process of Lokpal formation is flawed, even a genuine complainant will feel discouraged to file a complaint for the fear of penalty to report against a corrupt official.
Obviously, all this farce in the name of Lokpal Bill suits the corrupt politicians. And now strangely it also wins Hazare’s favor, though in terms of its effectiveness, the passed Bill stands nowhere near the original version that Hazare and his team proposed through their anti-corruption movement in 2011. The new “Lokpal” is being termed as “Jokepal” while Hazare is facing criticism for accepting it.
This is not the first time Hazare has resorted to these types of histrionic antics. He has done it multiple times in the past that without getting any real promise from the corrupt Indian regime to pass a strong Lokpal Bill, he broke his fast under the pretext that government has accepted his demands.
But this time, 76-year-old Hazare has shown his true colors by expressing his hidden desire to stay in the limelight by hook or by crook. Earlier this month, Hazare saw that Kejriwal’s political party AAP – which was formed after breaking away from Hazare group – has hogged the limelight after winning a whopping 28 seats in the Delhi elections.
Out of sheer jealousy and to settle a score with Kejriwal, Hazare immediately decided to sit on fast demanding the passage of Lokpal Bill to draw the attention of public and media toward him. He – along with a few of his lazy cronies – feared that Kejriwal will get the full credit for fighting against corruption because his AAP was primarily formed to fight corruption in the country.
The chattering classes in India also believe that there is a certain secret deal between Hazare and Congress party, as Hazare is giving credit for the passage of the Lokpal Bill to Congress which will leverage it in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Surprisingly, now even the opposition party BJP has supported the Lokpal Bill and decided to clear it in Parliament even without a proper debate on its effectiveness to fight corruption. Like Hazare, both Congress and BJP are also scared of AAP’s increasing popularity and honest approach that won Kejriwal’s party massive public support in Delhi elections.
As Congress and BJP are equally corrupt, they want to score a political point over AAP by clearing the Lokpal Bill – in whatever shape it is – to ostensibly show that they are also against corruption.
But most Indians know that both these traditional parties are chips of the same block and have faced frequent corruption charges in the past. But in the absence of an effective anti-corruption law in India, they escaped the punishment.
Now, after Congress and BJP, Hazare has come as the third dimension to the already rampant corruption in the country by joining hands with corrupt politicians. He has added fuel to the fire by promoting corruption with his acceptance of the weak Lokpal Bill that Indian Parliament passed Wednesday.
Now, the only hope for common Indians is from emerging political groups like AAP that must continue their fight against the corrupt politicians – and now also against jealous Hazare.
You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman