Anna Hazare has written to the Prime Minister reiterating his demand for the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Two years ago the whole country was gripped with the Lokpal fever and it ended with the Government promising that it will bring a Lokpal Bill — maybe not in the same form that Anna Hazare and his followers wanted but nevertheless a mechanism to be created to deal with corruption at high levels. Unfortunately two years have passed and nothing has come about. Anna has written a letter to the Prime Minister stating that many Bills have been passed on many subjects but it is unfortunate that the subject which the public wants — the Bill to be passed — is not being passed because of reasons best known to the Government. It is obvious that the Congress party must be finding it difficult to put such a mechanism in place without disturbing the other authorities which are already there. However, once a commitment has been made the Government must evolve a method by which a mechanism by the name of Lokpal can be put into action. Indeed, if the Congress doesn’t do that it will pay a heavy price in the next Lok Sabha elections. It may appear that this matter has faded in the public memory but the basic issue of dealing with corruption at high levels still remains a relevant issue. It is also true that neither the BJP nor any other party has suggested any alternative mechanism to deal with this problem. But if the Government is seen as doing nothing on this subject after having made a formal commitment to Anna, it will be a tragedy for the Congress party and the country. The least the Government could do is to form some sort of committee, maybe an all party committee or with intellectuals and civil society to suggest what is the least expensive and most effective method of dealing with corruption at high levels. Anna’s proposal may be too far reaching because he wants to cover thousands of Government employees within the ambit of the Lokpal which will create another bureaucracy. The Government should come out with an alternative proposal of dealing with only Ministerial corruption which will deal with only hundreds of people in the country, not thousands and a really high-powered person as a Jan Lokpal who can deal with serious allegations and also discard frivolous irrelevant allegations which are bound to crop up whenever the institution of the Lokpal is in place. Let us see what the Prime Minister response is to this letter. Let us still hope that something constructive will come out. The second question that should bother the Prime Minister – and correctly — should be that after nine and a half years of his rule what was it that he set to achieve and what was left undone, I’m sure, from his list of points with which he must have set out in 2004, which was a normal term of five years and he got another five years. I’m sure he must be thinking in solitude that there were a lot of missed opportunities — whether it relates to peace in Pakistan, or peace in China or a seat in the United Nations; on the international front relations with Iran which were always cordial have also suffered in recent times. On the Indian front apart from the economy — I will say I cannot put much blame on him because the economy has its own cycles. But what about the law and order, what about the Maoist problem? All that needs initiative from the Government. Maoism is a law and order problem and these attempts through the police and the Army will be like he’s paying a compliment to Narendra Modi which is what the RSS and BJP believe in. They don’t believe in dialogue, they believe in pressing dissent — whether it is the Muslims on the communal front, Pakistan on the neighbouring front or they are enamoured by America — America is sitting thousands of miles away but they are powerful and they’re for free enterprise, private enterprise which has been the economic policy of the Jan Sangh and the BJP. After all what is the cadre of the RSS? They are small-time traders — whether it is Chandni Chowk in Delhi or Kalba Devi in Mumbai or similar markets in the south and therefore their main issue in every manifesto will be always sales-tax reforms because that affects their cadres the most. Recently, of course, even the corporates have jumped onto the band-wagon of Narendra Modi — very convenient. Whoever becomes the Prime Minister, they jump on the band-wagon. They have nothing to worry about. The real worrying factor is unless the problems affecting the nation are addressed there is no use and from what I’ve observed the BJP of course does not have an agenda but the Congress party which always used to have a national agenda was slipping on that front. The earlier the Prime Minister can address the issues (because only 6 months are left for the elections), the better it will be for the Congress party and the country.
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