This refers to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that the path chosen by Anna Hazare to impose his draft of the Jan Lokpal bill on Parliament is “totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our parliamentary democracy.”
I wonder why Dr. Singh did not show the same concern when Ministers in the UPA government were accused of corruption and the opposition demanded action against them. Parliamentary democracy will become meaningful only when people have faith in it. It is not Mr. Hazare's action but the UPA government's inaction that has led to people losing faith in Parliament.
The argument that Mr. Hazare's protest for a stronger Lokpal bill undermines the democratic process — as any social worker can resort to an indefinite fast in future if he is allowed to have his way — is unacceptable. Not every cause draws thousands from all walks of life to the streets.
Only a genuine issue as the one taken up by Mr. Hazare can trigger such a massive response among the common people. People are frustrated because the government has not taken care of their basic needs. Instead, the money they pay as taxes has been stashed away in secure bank lockers abroad.
The government should agree to bring everyone other than the Prime Minister within the purview of the Lokpal bill, with the President, the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court keeping a check on the Lokpal committee. By trying to suppress Mr. Hazare's movement, the government has indeed acted myopically and further damaged its credibility.
“Corrupt, repressive and stupid” (editorial, Aug. 17) is how I too would like to describe the UPA government's response to Mr. Hazare's decision to protest for a stronger Lokpal bill. The act of arresting and then releasing him in quick time under a groundswell of public protests exposed its political ineptness and lack of common sense. Its precipitous action altered overnight the essential nature of the issue from Mr. Hazare's obstinacy to have a superman Lokpal — who he thinks will reduce corruption by at least 60 per cent — to a repressive regime trampling upon the liberties of its citizens. The highly emotive issue of denial of an individual's right to protest against an insensitive and arbitrary administration has now pushed even those who were hitherto not much enamoured of Mr. Hazare into the fold of the protesters.
There is a marked difference between the opinions expressed by politicians and the rest of the people with respect to the Lokpal bill. Most politicians, including the opposition, are against the Jan Lokpal bill while the rest are for it. What could be the reason? Is it that politicians do not want a law that will have an immediate effect on them? Can someone offer a more convincing reason?
The volume of corruption in India is unbelievable. But it is difficult to understand the reaction of Congress leaders to any attempt at cleansing the system. They should understand that the anti-corruption measures under discussion are meant for not only the present regime but also future governments.
The government is losing ground in the ongoing “battle” for a social cause. Its decision to arrest Mr. Hazare cannot be justified. The move challenged the democratic right of citizens to protest peacefully. Does it make sense to claim that ours is the world's largest democracy?