Karela Fry

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Cutting the ground from under their feet

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Telegraph has the most complete report I’ve come across on the parliament’s resolution yesterday which broke Hazare’s movement:

Anna Hazare at the end of his fast

Today’s resolution only claims the House “agrees in principle” on a citizen’s charter, bringing the “lower bureaucracy under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism, and establishment of Lokayukta in the states”.

The final decisions on almost all the issues have been left to the standing committee, which will analyse the suggestions and look at how practicable they are.

It is also clear that the House has upheld the government’s key argument about Parliament’s supremacy in lawmaking.

“Hazare can boast only of a moral victory as of now. Nothing concrete has been given,” a government source said.

At the daylong debate, the DMK, Bahujan Samaj Party, CPM, CPI, Samajwadi Party and the Biju Janata Dal argued that Parliament should not enact Lokayuktas for the states as that would violate the states’ autonomy. Some of these parties threatened to resist any such move.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj supported the Hazare team’s stand on the Lokayukta but Congress speakers raised issues of legislative competence, although they added that a way could be found around this.

On the lower bureaucracy, every party conceded the need for the strongest action as corruption at this level causes people the most widespread suffering. The BJP supported the Hazare demand while the Congress agreed in principle but added that the legal and institutional framework would have to be worked out.

This implies the government harbours reservations against this clause although the resolution does not reflect this.

The BJP backed a citizens’ charter too but the Congress stuck to its original option of a grievance redress mechanism. The two parties agreed, though, that delay or inefficiency on an official’s part cannot be deemed to be corruption. Other parties supported a citizens’ charter.

The MPs have rejected many key clauses of the “Jan Lokpal Bill” and expressed strong reservations about some others. Every single member, including those from the BJP, opposed the demand to include MPs’ conduct inside Parliament within the Lokpal’s ambit.

Most parties rejected the demand for the judiciary’s inclusion. While some parties wanted a national judicial commission instead, others favoured a strong judicial accountability bill.

On the matter of the Prime Minister’s inclusion, the Congress gave no commitment although the BJP and several others favoured it if implemented with adequate safeguards. The AIADMK rejected the idea.

Two other key demands —merger of the CBI’s anti-corruption wing with the Lokpal and dismissal of corrupt civil servants — will be decided by the standing committee.

Some newspapers report that the movement was about to collapse for fear of violence. This report claims that it was a tactical movement on the government’s part.

The Prime Minister then mounted the endgame by bringing in Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has known Hazare for a long time, to establish a direct contact with the Gandhian. Deshmukh convinced Hazare that the situation was getting out of hand and could trigger violence.

With that background one can read a sense of defeat and other skirmishes to come into Kejriwal’s comments reported by HT:

Kejriwal said that we should not forget our responsibility after casting our votes. He also said that it is we the people who have given ourselves this constitution. He expressed the need of the legislators to consult the ‘gram sabha’ before backing any legislation.

Gram Sabha seems to be an inspired translation of a term common in the US poilitical vocabulary: town hall.

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