Now that the Presidential election is over, it is high time the government starts concentrating on the nation’s problems. One funny offshoot is that the general discussion among people in both Delhi and Mumbai is either that there should be a non-political President, or, as some people said, the President should be active. What this means I do not know. Under our Constitution, if and till there is an elected government enjoying the confidence of the Lok Sabha, the President has to go by the advice of the Council of Ministers. He has no powers beyond that. The suggestion that Mr. Pranab Mukherjee will be a different kind of a President is actually a mischievous suggestion. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee is a seasoned politician who has been in politics since 1969 and held various positions in the Government of India. He is well aware of the powers of the Council of Ministers and the limited power of the President. I personally am sure that he will do everything in his power to enhance the dignity of the office of the President of India and will not be carried away by public rhetoric that the President should become pro-active. Veteran journalist and columnist Rajinder Puri has been constantly writing that it is a misreading of the Constitution, and actually the President enjoys many powers under the Constitution. Whether that is so or not is for the Supreme Court to lay down. Till now the law laid down is that the Council of Ministers has to take all important decisions all decisions in fact. Mr. Venkataraman, former President of India, has said clearly that wherever the word ‘President’ occurs in the Constitution it means the ‘Union Government’. There can be nothing more clear than that – I think that is one point. Now coming to the problems of the country. For some reason, under some excuse or the other of the Presidential Election, the government has been postponing attending to the real issues. The Prime Minister should immediately get down to business, reconstitute his Council of Ministers if he wants to, take whatever steps he wants to, because the economy is crying for help. The economy needs decisions from the government. Corruption is a major issue on which Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev are carrying out an agitation. You can’t wish this agitation away. In whichever city these two gentlemen go there is a public reaction, public support. Now whether a Lokpal Bill can solve the corruption issue, I do not know and I do not even think so. But corruption has to be tackled. The issue raised by Anna Hazare has to be addressed. You can’t wish it away. The last session of Parliament conveyed a very bad picture with the Lok Sabha passing the Bill and in the Rajya Sabha, a 100 amendments come, and then you postpone the decision and place the Bill before the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. A report should be submitted urgently and in whatever form, the Bill should be passed. You cannot say that just because you can’t agree on some clauses we will not have a Lokpal. Then you are only giving rise to a suspicion that the government is interested in perpetuating corruption. For any government, it is very inconvenient to have more and more laws and more and more independent people. But now it’s too late; when the agitation started they should have had a dialogue with Anna Hazare and solved the problem. Now Anna Hazare is sitting on a fast again. I do not know the people surrounding Anna Hazare, but Anna Hazare himself cannot be faulted. He is a selfless social worker who lives a very simple life in Ralegan Siddhi and he has caught the imagination of the people. If he goes and sits on hunger strike it is not good. One Central Minister has said that if Anna Hazare has a complaint he should go to the UNO _ the most astounding suggestion that I have ever heard. I am reminded that earlier Maulana Bukhari used to talk like that, that we will go to UN, and the previous Prime Minister used to object. We are a sovereign country having democratic elections every 5 years, what has the UN got to do with us? The honourable Minister has not read the UN Charter. One of the clauses of the charter is that the UN cannot interfere in the internal affairs of any country. So even if anybody goes to the UN, the UN can’t do anything except send that petition to the Government of India. It would be better to stop making such childish statements. I think the government should take itself more seriously. I think it is high time the Prime Minister makes a core team and starts addressing the problems concerning the country seriously and effectively.
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