Anna takes on politicos

You are mere servants, Hazare tells parliamentarians

Anna takes on politicos

Former  IPS officer Kiran Bedi greets  Gandhian Anna Hazare at an interactive session in Bangalore on Friday.   Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde looks on.  DH photo

They warned of reviving their agitation at Jantar Mantar, the birthplace of their movement, if elected representatives tried to dodge them.

At a highly charged panel discussion on the validity and the impact of the proposed anti-corruption legislation, many members of the Jan Lokpal Bill drafting committee debated the pros and cons of, what is considered, a landmark bill against corruption.
Cheers and screams reverberated in Purandara Bhavan at Indiranagar where the public consultation was organised by India Against Corruption and Namma Bengaluru Foundation. The event evinced a lot of interest among participants, including  farmers from the rural areas of Karnataka.

Though the activists remained sceptical of parliamentarians’ commitment to enact the proposed bill, they said they were prepared to go to any extent to see it through.
Hazare said: “Politicians and bureaucrats have cultivated the habit of behaving like bosses. It is time they put an end to this practice.”

He vowed to go back to Jantar Mantar if there were attempts to create hurdles to the bill. He sought people’s support. Kiran Bedi, retired IPS officer, said they were carefully evaluating politicians’ actions. “We have to wait till June. We’ll have to see if there are any obstacles before the bill goes to Parliament. But once it’s passed, we’ll go to our elected representatives and say we’re watching you,” she said. 

Hazare was at his belligerent best against corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. “The real owners of government funds are the people. They are the pr­o­prietors of this country. Politicians are only servants,” he said.

Hazare welcomed decentralisation of power and administration to eradicate corruption. He said: “Not all decisions should be taken in Delhi.”

In his view, transparency in decisions could bring about a big change in society. Gram panchayats should be taken into confidence before matters of local importance “are decided.”  So, the Central and state governments should obtain the co­­nsent of a gram pan­c­h­a­y­a­t­/­ sa­bha before approving any pr­oject in the village concerned.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh warned that unchecked corruption “will  force the victims to take up arms. We have enslaved farmers and tribals. If corruption is left unchecked, they will turn violent. We will then call them Naxals and Maoists,” Agnivesh, who was an interlocutor between the Centre and Maoists, said.

When asked whether the Jan Lokpal Bill could prevent politicians convicted of corruption from contesting elections, Bedi said conviction itself would bar a politician’s candidature.

Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer and member of the committee, called for special courts to try those accused of corruption. But what if the government doesn’t do this, and the whole system collapses? “We’ll have to take the legal recourse,” he said. 
Bringing corporate entities and non-profit organisations under the ambit of the Jan Lokpal Bill was also discussed. Memoranda of understanding and public- private partnership  models should be made transparent and all details about them should be made public, it was felt. Bedi urged the media to be a stakeholder in the movement.

According to Arvind Kejriwal, member of the bill drafting committee, steps to check corruption among the lokpal/lokayukta staff is among the various provisions of the proposed law.

The efficacy of procedural parts of the legislation was also deliberated. The members said judicial review should be restricted to the Supreme Court. 

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