Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Friday doubted the proposed Lokpal's ability to root out corruption. It would be only one element in the legal framework to combat corruption. The Lokpal institution alone could not be a substitute for a comprehensive anti-corruption code, he said in the Lok Sabha.
While welcoming civil rights activist Anna Hazare's fight against corruption, Mr. Gandhi said, amid thumping of desks by the Congress benches, “however individual dictates, no matter how well intentioned, must not weaken the democratic process.”
Raising the corruption issue during zero hour, even as the BJP members vehemently questioned on what basis he was allowed to speak suddenly, Mr. Gandhi said the Lokpal could be fortified by making it a constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission.
“I feel the time has come for us to seriously consider this idea.”
Mr. Gandhi went on to state that the democratic process was often lengthy and lumbering, “but it is so in order to be inclusive and fair. It provides for a representative and transparent platform, where ideas are translated into laws.”
A tactical incursion, divorced from the machinery of an elected government that sought to undo the checks and balances created to protect the supremacy of Parliament sets a dangerous precedent for a democracy. “Today, the proposed law [Jan Lokpal] is against corruption. Tomorrow the target may be something less universally heralded. It may attack the plurality of our society and democracy.”
Political will required
Mr. Gandhi said removing the evil required a comprehensive framework of action and a concerted political programme supported by all levels of the State from the highest to the lowest. “Most importantly, it requires a firm political will.”
An effective law was required to deal with some critical issues such as government funding of polls and political parties, transparency in public procurement, proper regulation of sectors that fuelled corruption like land and mining, grievance redress mechanisms in public service delivery of old age pensions and ration cards; and continued reforms to end tax evasion.