Citizens begin fast in support of Jan Lokpal Bill

Nearly 150 people from various walks of life participated in a daylong fast supporting the Jan Lokpal Bill here on Tuesday.

Led by Right Livelihood award-winner R. Balasubramaniam, founder of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, the strike was also an expression of solidarity with Gandhian Anna Hazare, who commenced a “fast unto death” in Delhi.

The crusade is part of an all-India movement and was held under the banner of India Against Corruption.

Participants included former Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India M.S. Nagaraja Rao, Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa and litterateur Prabhushankar, and members of the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), including Bhamy V. Shenoy, H.R. Bapu Satyanarayana and Vasanthkumar Mysoremath.

The bust of Mahatma Gandhi in front of the Mysore Court Complex was garlanded following which the fast commenced. The attention of the public was drawn to the salient features of the Jan Lokpal Bill and pamphlets were distributed on the imperatives of eradicating corruption.

Dr. Balasubramaniam, who works on tribal welfare and rural health, told The Hindu that he was surprised by the show of support. He said that of the 150 people who participated, 30 were youngsters.

“This was encouraging and gave hope for the future,” he said. “The crusade against corruption has start at the local level. On our part we have to shake up the people of Mysore from their middle-class indifference,” said Dr. Balasubramaniam.

“We will wait for the Government's response to Mr. Hazare's fast,” he said. The next course of action would be decided in a few days. It could include an awareness drive in rural Karnataka for which Dr. Balasubramaniam said he was prepared to take a padayatra from Mysore to Bangalore covering the villages en route.

He said the Government's draft on Lokpal Bill was a “meaningless joke” as 90 per cent of them would go scot free.

The Jan Lokpal Bill on the other hand was drafted by Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, advocate Prashant Bhushan, and activist Arvind Kejriwal after taking public feedback into account. It proposed complete autonomy to the authority of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the State. It also proposed that trial in corruption cases be completed within a year and the guilty, whether politicians, judges or officials, be sent to jail within two years. The Jan Lokpal Bill also stipulates recovery of the loss caused to the Government. The Lokpal members will be appointed through a transparent and a participatory process involving judges, citizens and constitutional authorities, but not politicians.

The MGP, which supported the fast, said that the demand to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill was likely to bring in a semblance of transparency and accountability in good governance.