Karela Fry

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The Lokpal bill induces Rahul Gandhi to speak to the Parliament

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The Hindu reports:

Referring to the anti—corruption campaign of Anna Hazare, Mr. Gandhi said it has “helped the people to articulate” disillusionment and that he “thanks him for that”.

At the same time, the Congress leader said, “individual dictates, no matter how well-intentioned, must not weaken the democratic process….A tactical incursion, divorced from the machinery of an elected government that seeks to undo the checks and balances created to protect the supremacy of Parliament sets a dangerous precedent for a democracy.”

“Today, the proposed law is against corruption. Tomorrow, the target may be something less universally heralded. It may attack the plurality of our society and democracy,” Mr. Gandhi warned in the House, as his sister Priyanka Gandhi watched from the visitors’ gallery.

“Witnessing the events of the last few days, it would appear that the enactment of a single bill will usher in a corruption—free society. I have serious doubts about this belief,” he said, adding an effective Lokpal “is only one element in the legal framework to combat corruption.”

He maintained that “Lokpal institution alone cannot be a substitute for a comprehensive anti—corruption code. A set of effective laws is required.”

“We speak of a statutory Lokpal but our discussion cease at the point of its accountability to the people and the risk that it might itself become corrupt,” the Congress General Secretary told the packed House, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being among those in attendance.

“Why not elevate the debate and fortify the Lokpal by making it a Constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission of India? I feel the time has come for us to seriously consider this idea,” he said.

That was, quite probably, Rahul Gandhi’s first major speech in Parliament. Interestingly worded, and seemingly well prepared: the speech is premised on the structure of the republic as laid out in the constitution, according to which the will of the people is reflected directly only in the election to the parliament. Under such a structure the parliament must be supreme. Within this structure it is perfectly reasonable to make the Lokpal accountable to the parliament.

I wonder whether changing this structure to allow the people to participate by recalling their representatives or by allowing referendums amounts to a change in the basic structure? In other words, would such demands be judged by our supreme court to be attempts at overthrowing the state?


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

August 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

One Response

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  1. […] is also clear that the House has upheld the government’s key argument about Parliament’s supremacy in […]

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