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Updated: June 25, 2011 03:08 IST

Don't succumb to civil society's pressure tactics, CWC tells Centre

Smita Gupta
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi (right) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the CWC meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: S. Subramanium
The Hindu Congress president Sonia Gandhi (right) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the CWC meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: S. Subramanium

The Congress Working Committee (CWC), which met here on Friday evening to discuss the controversial Lokpal Bill, was unanimous in its view that the government should not allow itself to be held to ransom by a handful of civil society activists.

Simultaneously, it was clarified that the draft of the government representatives on the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee was just that – it was not yet the official government draft that would emerge only after the government took a final view after the all-party meeting slated for July 3.

Issue of booklet

On the specifics of the Bill, CWC sources said a few members concurring with the view of the government representatives on the joint drafting committee said there was no need to include the Prime Minister in the Bill as he, along with all citizens, was covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act and the law of the land. There were, these sources added, no voices to the contrary.

Indeed, a few members even impressed on the CWC the need for party leaders to speak in one voice so that there were no reports about “a party view” and “a government view.” The CWC, therefore, has taken the view that the party will concur with the government line on the Lokpal Bill, once it emerges after the meeting of July 3. The Congress may then issue a booklet on its views on the Lokpal Bill at that stage.

Indeed, though the focus of the meeting was the Lokpal Bill, anger against civil society members took centre stage. At Friday's meeting, there was no direct criticism of the government's handling of the issue but a couple of members indirectly suggested, sources said, that the government had given a long rope to civil society members by including them in the joint drafting committee, a gesture that was not appreciated. On the contrary, this inclusion, these sources added, paved the way for the pressure tactics adopted by yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

Earlier, shortly after the CWC meeting concluded, Congress media chairperson and party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told journalists that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gave a chronological, blow-by-blow account of the journey the Lokpal Bill had taken, from its inclusion in the party's manifesto, to a draft being readied in 2010 – before any civil society activist has asked for it – to the trajectory the joint drafting committee meetings had taken. In his intervention, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram pointed out the finer legal points of the Bill.

According to Mr. Dwivedi, in her opening remarks party president Sonia Gandhi said that from time to time, both she and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had highlighted the menace of corruption, and the action the government had taken to tackle it, as well as the many steps taken in the interest of the people. The Prime Minister made the concluding remarks, stressing that the government had done whatever it could to deal with corruption.

Party general secretary Digvijay Singh repeated at the meeting a line that he – and the party – have taken: that Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev were the masks of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party – and the party needed to tackle that larger threat.

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UPA will never allow Lokpal bill to be enacted. They will try to create a rift among various sections of the nation so that there is chaos and bill agenda derailed. Problem is that none of the political party has clean image.So all would endeavor jointly to shelve the bill. Annaji and team has no chance of garnering support from opposition since opposition is equally corrupt. Its going to take a generation to have real political reforms applied in India.

from:  aju
Posted on: Jun 27, 2011 at 09:36 IST

I don't agree with congress views,the civil society is also part of this nation and they have right to voice against corruption and black money and leaders like Kapil Sibal and Digvijaya should restrict their critisism about civil society.

from:  subramanian
Posted on: Jun 27, 2011 at 07:40 IST

The Congress is making a tactical blunder. Anger of the people is a flash in the pan - it flares up and dies without doing any real damage to the status quo. Better to be seen on the side of the people now. The Lokpal bill has not become law in 42 years... and if the Lok Sabha in 1969 was foolish enough to pass the bill, Indian society has been very effective in keeping it buried. Anna harnessed the anger of the Indian public who switch allegiance the moment the gravity of what they are proposing strikes them. Honesty, seriously? I get irritated by having to pay - the anger is tempered by the fact that corruption enables me to things that would not have been mine honestly. I might not take a bribe, would I turn my face away from essential stuff like school admissions, jumping the queue etc.? The cost of corruption is borne by the janta. Who cares about them, frankly? Our culture is about co-opting, the Lokpal will be another useful ally. Otherwise, would not the cops have been enough?

from:  Jayadevan
Posted on: Jun 27, 2011 at 00:27 IST

The Congress keeps talking about Mahatma Gandhi, if he would see this state of India and the words of these politicians he would have started another movement.

from:  Pratyush
Posted on: Jun 26, 2011 at 23:04 IST

This episode clearly shows how serious our political parties are against corruption. Even if the law comes, it would be a white elephant -- that's it. The people of India need to unite and fight against corruption and these political parties,all of them.

from:  Pratyush
Posted on: Jun 26, 2011 at 22:59 IST

None of these people who have skeletons in their own cupboard will come out in favor of the Jana Lokpal Bill - they can NEVER shoot themselves in the foot... And who better than Congress to lead the corrupt?

from:  Amitava Sengupta
Posted on: Jun 26, 2011 at 22:38 IST

Is CWC head Sonia an elected person? If she can tell the PM to do things her way... what is the PM for? Even the PM is an un-elected representative. How is that right? Two different rules .. one for civil society .. and one CWC.

from:  Rajiv
Posted on: Jun 26, 2011 at 19:29 IST

This is a formal acknowledgement by the CWC of the fact that political parties have become Private Armies of the Alien Dynasty.
The CWC has also accepted that it has no role in drafting any Lok Pal Bill, never had any such ambitions in the last forty years, and will blindly accept any muck put up by the ‘government’ meaning Sonia.

from:  K.Vijayan
Posted on: Jun 26, 2011 at 17:05 IST

This proves, we gave the power to political terrorists who cheat their own people. This is the time to give opportunity to new political party like Loksatta rather than giving power to parties who are already converting Indian democracy to demo-crazy. Only a new party can dare to bring strong Jan Lokpal Bill.
Everyone who really care about future of India should think about contesting in elections. Citizens are who are sensitive to the people sufferings, educated with lot of common sense are better than these current elected political terrorists. I hope true leaders emerge in our country.

from:  Nageswara Rao Bitra
Posted on: Jun 26, 2011 at 07:51 IST

As the P M stressed that "the government had done whatever it could to deal with corruption", is it decision time for the opposition parties now? With (a) the country reeling from case after case of major corruption allegations, and more queuing up like a rush hour traffic jam, (b) the educated classes waking up to the plunder in the name of economic deregulation, daily stress of incessant bribery, and the visible effects of moral degeneration, (c) and the helpless citizens taking to the streets - the anti-corruption measures seem to be not comprehensive, or not very effective. So, why is 'anti-corruption' not seen as a winning political issue? Irrespective of whether any party is tainted or not, would any vulnerability not be proportional to the length of time in power? Would the opposition parties not be comparatively less tainted, and thus have a relative advantage? Why are the opposition parties not uniting at least on this one issue and donning the mantle of 'anti-corruption'?

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 22:59 IST

I am not surprised at the CWC stand. How you expect people who are products of corruption to fight corruption. Every member there does not relate to the common man on the street. They live in this cocoon which is nourished by the money swindled from ordinary Indians. I sincerely hope every India comes forward to help Anna in his crusade and shake the very foundation of CWC. Time for second freedom struggle..this time freedom from corruption.

from:  Deepa
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 22:22 IST

Manmohanji, you have two options, either implement good lokpal bill and loose next election, because corrupt people will hate you or dont implement good lokpal bill and loose next election. Anyway you wont come back to power again. Why not do some good for the nation before you retire?

from:  PK
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 20:54 IST

Either Annajis team is voice or Mask of RSS/any political party doesnt matters. The change which they are trying to bring is on behalf of the people and for the people and nation's prosperity. This shows that the govt. stands against the people, who favoured/elected them and not for them.Constitution and Govt. is by the people, for the people and of the people.In the last press meet of IT & Law minister, they said Annajis team draft was something unconstitutional/out of constitution. If the constitution is really for the people what stops our Govt. to pass the Annas draft?

from:  Sivanesh
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 18:08 IST

By finding fault with the draft and inclusion of civil society members in the drafting committee, the CWC want to reverse the entire efforts of the Govt. in bringing out a lokpal bill. The CWC headed by Sonia has set an agenda of confrontation with the members of the civil society who enjoys public support. The Govt. must act firm and fair in this matter. The people are ready to face the battle in their war against corruption.

from:  Deivi
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 17:10 IST

Had Mahatma Gandhi been alive he may well have replied to the above news report by repeating what he had said to the Magistrate in Champaran, in Bihar in 1917:
"my mission is totally of peace. Reformers like myself who have no other axe to grind, but that of reform they are handling for the time being, specialise and create a force [soulforce or satyagraha] which the Government must reckon with" />
[Nanda BR; Gandhi and his critics; Delhi: OUP India, 1985; p.59.]
Indians of 2011 are better educated than those of the last century. They can decide for themselves.

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 16:30 IST

@ Mani and others who think that bribery and corruption is a mandatory step to market deregulation, and one should put up with it for economic benefits. The truth is deregulation provides an opportunity, when people/Govt. are not vigilant, to collect illegal bribes by those who can!
Cheap mobile phones came about due to deregulation / liberalisation and not due to any alleged 2G bribery. Businesses price products to maximise profits. Paying bribes often pushes up prices as that 'cost' must be recovered, and can lower safety / customer service, should the regulating authority having taken a bribe, then closes its eyes. Had other companies got 2G licences without paying bribes, mobiles would still have been priced low, in a competitive market.
If railways are deregulated in the future, services would improve dramatically. That too would not depend on having to pay bribes first! Were bribes paid for airline deregulation?

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 15:49 IST

Dr.Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister is famous for saying two things: He said: 1)"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.". 2)"The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."
The UPA government (or the Congress party) now follows these pearls of wisdom. If you look at the strategy, it's brilliant, it's working! When you ask a minister about corruption, he lies blatantly about how committed they are to fight corruption. When cornered he calls everyone who opposes their party as 'RSS agents'. The idea is to mislead people, create confusion and divide people who stand for a cause. All authoritarians (including Hitler), called their opponents "saboteurs, enemies of the state, and anti-social" before throwing them in jail. Shades of emergency, perhaps?

from:  Mohan Narayan
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 14:00 IST

There is an uncanny similarity between what is currently being said and done by those trying to suppress the Indian people's struggle for economic and moral freedom (through the Jan Lokpal Bill), and what the colonial British Govt. said and did, to suppress the political freedom of the Indian people – from strategies/tactics right down to the use of vocabulary. First ignore, then sweep away / suppress through force and underhand methods, next smear campaign of vilification / character assassination, misrepresentation (minimisation, marginalisation, misinformation, distortion, downright lies and false accusations) etc are all standard 'textbook' stuff. Good history books on how the British went about punishing the Indian people, and how Mahatma Gandhi successfully formulated his strategy to resist and eventually win India's freedom - should provide ample reading material.Eventually truth triumphs. Eternal vigilance, by the people, is the price for democracy.

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 13:37 IST

Arrogance of power has been eating into the vitals of the Congess party during the last few years. One hopes that this grand old party of Gandhi and Nehru will come down to earth and listen to what people are saying about its present degenerate state. If it does so and act according to the advice it may receive,the Congress may yet have a chance to pull itself up.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 13:33 IST

People now you know what is going on UPA, their aim is to loot huge huge amount and to settle in abroad. They are making us foolish. We will show after 5 years already 2 years passed.

from:  Sunil Shetty
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 12:26 IST

While Mr. Kapil Sibal surreptitiously includes Government's intent of its aversion to tackle corruption by not equipping and providing necessary leeway for efficient functioning of LokPal Bill, Digvijay Singh does this blatently by defaming the unimpeachable reputation of Anna Hazare's team by linking them with RSS and BJP.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 10:04 IST

UPA is making the ordinary people gullible by saying that Annaji is the mask of BJP and RSS. Many times he asked them to give any proof of it. As yet they did not. Even now they are saying the same thing. Do not make people fool like this.All the representatives of Parilament or assembly got entry into these esteemed institution because of people's vote.Why you people are scared to bring this bill Dictated by civil society.If you bring this bill any PM whether it is from BJp's or any party's PM will also fall in the ambit of Lokpalbill. So if you are sincere bring strong Lokpal bill and save India from corruption

from:  Balan
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 08:35 IST

CWC rejected the relevance of Cvil Society and its suggestions made in the Joint Meetings.If the intention was so then why have they wasted precious time and money for the meetings?If these leaders are so commited to check corruptions and for lokpal bill then why the govt.acted in late to book Raja,Kanimozhi and many others?Big big corruptions are surfacing one after another but the govt.are simply denying it and even denied the formation of JPC. Now they are saying that the Lokpal Bill was ready in 2010 if that was so why govt.did not bring it to the Parliment earlier or made any anouncement to the public? They are saying Civil Society as an agent of RSS but why the govt.is so critical about Civil Society? Now it is the high time to support CS as govt.cannot function unless a people like ANNA come in the street in a non violent way.

from:  Kharga
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 08:08 IST

What a shame.. COngress lacks complete will to act against corruption and bringing back black money in other countries.. Do they consider everyone fool to believe that Annaji is from RSS, a person whos is stauch Gandhian and proved that with his life. How many in Congress can claim to have followed the ideals of Gandhiji.. A party Gandhiji himself distanced from in his last days..

from:  Amol
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 07:50 IST

Rather than politicising the issue, do whatever is best for the country in view of prosperity of our own coming generation and also bearing in mind foreign forces are increasingly seen getting involved in Indian Administrative / Civilian matters recently.

from:  Prakas Menon
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 06:32 IST

The Congress clearly has no respect for the voice of the people. Whither Indian democracy, one may well ask!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 06:02 IST

I agree with Congress. Un-elected persons have no right to protest against corruption. Anna got support of 5000 persons only. He has no right to protest against corruption. As Digvijay stated, the Government should treat Anna as it treated Baba. We have to understand that we are living in 21st century. Anna is living in 20th century. He is not able to understand the significance of corruption. Only because of 2G scam, poor people got mobile at very cheap rate. For the time being everybody should close their eyes against corruption.

from:  mani
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 04:59 IST

Once again the congress showed its colour.Puppet prime minister,aii powerful Sonia,the incorrigible man Kabil sibal proved that they cannot changetheir colours.They don`have right to call th people who critice ther action as Thugsand criminals.Let them think who has giventhem the power -THE PEOPLE.They simplyforget that truth and think they decended from Heaven directly.

from:  SBalasubramanyan
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 04:13 IST

So CWC was unanimous in its view that the government should not allow itself to be held to ransom by a handful of civil society activists. In fact these uncivil CWC leaders (representing present Government) are holding India to ransom. It is peoples voice which is coming through civil society in India in a civilised way against open and fearless corruption by our present day scandelous politicians. It is CWC who acted in uncivilised way and ordered Police action against helpless civil society citizens in the middle of night at Ramlila maidan in a peaceful protest.

from:  harshi
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 03:28 IST

Every day group of people put their demands before the Government and elected representatives for end number of reasons. They agitate in unruly and roudy manner but governments tolerats them. They are not called undemocratic as these do not have nationwide public and media support. The questions are:

(1) If it is un-democratic to demand from democratically elected Government to pass a bill in the parliament in democratic manner in the interest of the nation.

(2) Have there been no tainted Prime Ministers in this country.

(3) Is it un-democratic to demand democratic behaviour from our representatives in parliament and if they don't than to make them answerable and punishable under the law.

(4) Have Judges not been charged for grafts and because of their impunity nothing happened.

(5) Does constitution itself not provides for amendment if needed.

(6) Does it matter who is leading for the cause.

(7) What is trust level Anna V/s. Political leaders in public.

from:  S P Srivastava
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 03:14 IST

It is a big mistake to propagate that RSS and BJP are behind Mr. Hazare, it is the voice of the people when congressand the Govt has failed to tackle the issue. Now, after so many years when a selfless leader comes out fighting corruption, and common people supporting him, congress is scared. Because most of the leaders are corrupt, and are afraid of the Lokpal agenda. If the leaders are clean, first they should their assests at home and out of the country, make it clear did they acquired the wealth if its beyond their salaries. The Congress and the leaders should be an example of free from corruption, or they are covering the issue and playing with the fire. The country will not digest it. One can cheat somebody for some days, but not for ever. It is so easy, tell the people we are clean, honest and do not take or encourage corruption and prove by actions. Why afraid ? Something is there to hide , otherwise there is no problem in accepting the Lokpal agenda.

from:  Shrinivas
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 02:04 IST
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