Empire's revenge

It was expected that vested interests who were uncomfortable with the civil society campaign for a strong Lokpal legislation would strike back sooner or later after they had to concede the demand for a joint committee for drafting the bill.

The response has started with rumour-mongering, insinuations and a CD that shows the drafting committee co-chairman Shanti Bhushan purportedly telling politicians Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh that his son Prashant Bhushan, another member of the committee, could influence a judge for Rs 4 crore. The CD, which was delivered in media offices in Delhi last week,  showed the anti-corruption campaigners in a poor light. If the conversation did actually take place that would certainly dent their reputation and credibility.

But Prashant Bhushan has questioned the genuineness of the CD and has asserted that it was doctored and fabricated. He has produced reports from two reputed forensic experts  who studied the CD and came to the conclusion that it is not the correct reproduction of an original conversation but a clever combination of portions of different speeches. Bhushan’s view that the circulation of the CD was an attempt to malign the anti-corruption movement and to undermine judicial proceedings in the 2G spectrum case seems to be credible. The judge whose name appears in the CD had handled these cases and Prashant Bhushan was the lawyer. From the details of the reports given from the forensic experts it seems likely that  Bhushan is speaking the truth. But there should be an investigation and whoever is found guilty should be punished. Anna Hazare, who has led the Lokpal bill campaign, has also expressed the same view.

The very fact that nobody has claimed ownership and responsibility for the CD is itself suspicious. That strengthens the view that there is a conspiracy to denigrate those who have stood up to fight the establishment on the issue of corruption. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s questions on the money spent on Anna Hazare’s agitation at Jantar Mantar in Delhi are also seen as part of a campaign to run down the civil society movement. It is likely that there will be more disinformation and defamation attempts in future. If anybody who champions honesty and rectitude is found lacking in integrity, he would only shame and weaken the movement. But circumstances point to deception on the part of some who are opposed to the Lokpal movement.

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