Friday, December 30, 2011

Painful journey of Lokpal in 2011

The year 2011 ends and what a what a way it ends for the Indian democracy. If there are a few words to describe this year, they would be corruption, anger, arrogance etc. But entire thing can be summed up in one or two words as Lokpal Bill. Never possibly in history of India would a bill would have seen such a wide variety of reactions (with possible exception of Hindu Code Bill). Let’s look at the journey this year to understand what went wrong and who the real culprit is.
Act 1 – Indulging Anna team
Early this year when Team Anna sat protesting at Jantar Mantar, Congress tried to indulge him to erase public memory and reduce anger over 2G and CWG. Hence they hurriedly formed a drafting committee with govt and Team Anna. They completely ignored the political class. No members of other parties were part of this drafting committee. What better way to show your utter contempt of Parliamentary Democracy?

Act 2 - Games with Anna
After side lining the Parliament and other political parties, Congress started the process of taking team Anna for a ride. The drafting committee could not come to a common draft as government was non-committal on many fronts. This was the stage where Team Anna saw through the Government's lack of intention on Lokpal Bill.

Act 3 - Abuse and misuse
When the drafting committee failed to conjure a proper bill, Congress tried its old games of abuse and misuse. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari fired the first salvo by questioning Anna Hazare's personal integrity. Digvijay Singh as usual joined the slander game with his trademark effectiveness. Post the abuse came misuse. Anna Hazare was arrested and ironically taken to same jail as Kalmadi, Raja. If this was a joke, it was so cruel it backfired. But Congress wasn't listening. Having curbed Baba Ramdev's protest with an iron hand, Congress was sure of repeating it with Anna Hazare. It misjudged the people's mood completely.

Act 4 - Pitching Parliament vs Anna
After it was forced to release Anna from Tihar, Congress tried to use speeches of some supporters of Team Anna. They tried to change the contour of the movement as being Team Anna vs Parliament. While Congress was right that many Anna supporters were undermining the Parliament, they forgot that they had started the process of undermining of Parliament. Congress in a bid to provide a 'halo' to its Yuvraj Rahul Gandhi, allowed the Anna protest to carry on for few days. Finally it allowed a discussion on Lokpal only after providing a chance to Rahul to try for a 'game changer'. Sadly the game changer was as much a damp squib as the player. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha then got Anna to break his fast after making some commitments.

Act 5 - Farce at Standing Committee
Once Anna's fast was over with commitments from the Parliament, it became necessary for the Standing Committee to provide a strong Lokpal Bill. But Congress members had different thoughts. They went back on issues such as CBI, inclusion of PM, inclusion of Type C and D employees. Most of non-Congress members and few Congress members gave their dissent note. The height of cheating was when Standing Committee called an emergency meeting with extremely less notice after telling members that the sessions were over. They pushed their side of contentious argument in the bill and presented a half baked, weak Lokpal to cabinet.

Act 6 - Playing the Religion card
Now that the world knew about Congress's fraud at the Standing Committee, Anna decided to fast again from 27th Dec followed by a Jail Bharo stir. Congress compromised a bit on contentious issues and got cabinet approval. But it had already made a plan to scuttle the bill by using friends like Laloo Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. They started the dangerous divisive game of reservations on religious basis. Everyone knew this was unconstitutional but Congress just played along. BP protested that reservations in a constitutional body (as wished by all) would be dangerous for the country.

Act 7 - The internal sabotage
Once the bill was brought to the Lok Sabha, Congress used it's friends in RJD, SP to create chaos. While the bill was passed, it did not get constitutional status as government fell short of 2\3rd mark. 12 Congress MPs were absent including some loyalists of Ahmed Patel. Yet Congress wanted to blame only BJP, which had consistently said that while it was all for Lokpal being a constitutional body, it was against the constitutional status for such a weak bill. All indications showed internal sabotage of Rahul's wish.

Act 8 - Assault on democracy
Now that the Congress had egg on it's face in LS, it faced the uphill task of passing it in RS where numbers went against them. Though LS had passed the bill on 27th, Congress wasted whole of 28th on procedural issues and made no attempt to bring the bill for discussion and vote. It used the time to negotiate with allies and other parties but failed as TMC hardened its stand. Finally when the bill came up for discussion on 29th, the house was delayed due to absence of the PM. Later at night, when S S Ahluwalia and Sitaram Yechury asked the Speaker what happens if voting does not happer till 12 midnight, the speaker brushed their concerns aside. Meanwhile most channels were talking of a disruption plan being worked out between Congress, SP and RJD. Exactly the same thing happened. Government now buoyed by failure and hasty end of Anna's fast in Mumbai, was ready to do anything to either stop the bill or shove its own preferred version. First disruption as RJD MP Rajneeti Prasad who tore papers (as Congress MPs tried their best to act as shocked. Instead of tackling one rogue MP, RS speaker adjourned the house for sometime inspite of knowing that midnight was approaching. BJP MPs sat quitely without getting provoked by barbs of various Congress ministers and MPs. When the clock neared 12, BJP leader Arun Jaitley expressed BJP's willingness to sit all night for the bill to be passed. But by then the Vice President and Speaker of RS had made up his mind to act like a Congress slave . Amidst the matchfixing, the bill was deffered indefinitely.

The entire sequence of this journey shows complete shamelessness, arrogance, penchant for cheating all and a disdain for democracy that Congress always had.