Beyond Lokpal And Its Political Face

Posted on August 7, 2012 in Politics

By Aniruddh Naik:

Back in 1975, India witnessed the Emergency card played by Indira Gandhi which made India comatose for 21 months till 1977, when finally it was lifted. The repercussions were disastrous for Indiraji in 1977 Lok Sabha elections. With only 153 seats, 92 of those coming from four southern states, while 288 seats were secured by the Janata Party. Janata Party was coterie of all small regional parties which brought a revolution in India. Led by the late Jayaprakash Narayan they stormed to power convincingly; only because they rode on the anti-Indira wave.

The 1981 Lok Sabha elections had surprised the Janata Party; they were out of power and this time it was Indira Gandhi who trashed them. She reinstated herself as the PM of India. The aura conceived by the whole JP movement (as it is addressed) lay in moribund state; directionless, rhetoric ideologies, mounting personal ambitions of miniscule parties in government and distinct lack of policy framing.

A comparison to this event is pertinent. The political situation which prevailed in 1975-1977 is no different from that in 2011-2012, with some obvious discrepancies. If one closely observes and compares both these situations, the prediction for another predicament is seemingly relevant; except one is not aware of its depth. With Team Anna entering politics, one can witness the history repeating itself. What we learn from Indiraji’s win in 1980 elections is that people have weak memory and they tend to leave the very cause for which they are fighting, the moment the cause loses its meaning. JP movement was biggest after independence; but it had a shelf life of only 3 years.

The Anna movement which started on April 5, 2012 gave hopes to many that it was time for India to come out of filthy and depraving corruption. For beginners, corruption prevailed since decades, right from the time India got its first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru. There were enough allegations and proof of corrupt cabinet ministers lurking behind Jawaharlal Nehru, who was indirectly supporting them.

So corruption isn’t new to us. What’s new is the magnanimity, diversification, presence at all pervasive levels and debunking of scams like Adarsh, CWG, 3G, etc. Finally one had to stop it, at least mollify the fiendish corrosion of Indian democratic values. That’s where Anna came in, at the right time along with a bunch of erudite scholars, who at first seemed dedicated to pass the long-lost Jan Lokpal bill brought in the year 1962. Since then, it was never passed. A Gandhian by values and by virtue, he represents naivety and astute character. Team Anna was thence formed, from and for a common cause: to eradicate corruption.

What happened in the last 12 months isn’t my area of concern. I leave the proliferation of the chronological events of team Anna to the ‘innocuous’ media. What is intriguing is the fact that many are not aware of the existing institutions that were meant to combat corruption but instead they fell for it. The simple solution doesn’t lie in getting another institution, meant for the same cause, to correct the course. Correcting the course doesn’t always mean forming a new one; it ascribes to meticulous observation of the cons of the existing one and then correcting the stagnant portions.

To enunciate more, I would like to bring in, the existing systems in India who are fighting for the same cause: Enforcement Directorate (ED), Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC), Chief Information Commission (CIC), ANTI CORRUPTION bureau, Central Bureau and the State-wise Lokayukta.

One may argue that these institutions are mere puppets at the hands of government and I agree with no reasonable doubt. But, what we don’t need is another institution that will soon follow the suite. For once it’s true that Jan Lokpal looks picture perfect on paper; and so did the others at the time of their birth. So why is now this abyss of distrust and cribbing from Team Anna and all his supporters? What if Lokpal will be one among them? Do we have answers right now? NO. All we have is a flimsy surge of optimism. Why waste a taxpayer’s money on this institution when you can use the same money in strengthening the foundation and expansion of the prevailing anti-corruption institutions? Empower these institutions with more rights and make them less accountable to the central government. Let them initiate probe on suspects in their own way. Let them file charge-sheets directly in the court of law without interference and influence of the government in power. Well many would have been happy if Team Anna ever demanded this or even vouched for it. This would, indeed, have made their cause more plausible and accurate.

The Anna movement can be said, though sporadically, to have lost one of its fundamental rationale-“being apolitical”. Once upon a time, apostles who preached ‘people’s power is the biggest’ are now favouring to cast their political ambitions. Those who once said that by being apolitical and the civil society have all powers in getting the bill passed; now want to enter into the political fray. They should have fathomed the fact that, if they ever want to get the bill passed, the best way was to stay out of politics and use the public pressure on government. Their decision has made policy makers happy and relieved; as now they know Team Anna cannot pass the bill for another 10 years as it will be busy gathering required numbers for the same.

The stage is apparently set for Team Anna and I wish them luck. Yes ‘luck’ is the only deciding factor when given the diversification of Indian polity. Let them not only fight for passing the Lokpal Bill, but also play paramount role in the betterment of ED, CBI, CIC, CVC and ANTI-CORRUPTION BEUREAU.