Although social activist Anna Hazare made the UPA government, particularly the Congress, feeble while agitating at Jantar-Mantar, Delhi, for strong enacting Lokpal Bill, his aides including himself are on target of the leaders since the formation of the joint committee for drafting the Bill. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh is more vocal against them. However, after Anna Hazare wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi and it was believed that he would cut down his rhetorics, but it did not happen precisely.

When Anna Hazare was sitting on fast unto death at Jantar-Mantar against corruption, the whole nation rallied behind him and as a result all parties, particularly the Congress, looked anxious on this matter. It was natural because the atmosphere was charged with something like other Gandhi has descended and it is bound to rein in corruption that scared all political leaders. They were mute spectators but they later left no stone unturned to put Anna and his associates in the dock. Some of them are putting illogic while others lying. First of all, well-off lawyers Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant Bhushan, members of joint committee, were attacked after a CD row came up suddenly. The CD contains alleged conversation between Mulayam Singh, Amar Singh and Shanti Bhushan for influencing a judge. Following the CD controversy, a case of plots allotment to Shanti Bhushan and his second son Jayant Bhushan by the Noida Authority surfaced. In the meantime another issue of allegedly paying less stamp duty for purchasing a bungalow in Allahabad by Shanti Bhushsan came up which made easier for the leaders to accuse him. Like Digvijay Singh, Amar Singh too is showing his keenness to question the image of Shanti Bhushan-Prashant Bhushan. He is refuting Shanti Bhushan’s claim that he never talked to him and Mulayam Singh. Amar Singh claims that Shanti Bhushan was not only provided with a charted plane but was also given Rs 50 lakh as fee to fight a case for Mulyam Singh. While Digvijay Singh and Amar Singh are trying their best to prove that the Bhusans do not have clean image, Anna and his associates reject the allegations made on them. Arvind Kejriwal, member of the joint committee, terms the CD fake which carries Bhushan’s voice but on the other Delhi police claims that the CD was not doctored. However, Prashant Bhushan has submitted evidence of the CD being fake. A private agency, probing the CD, raised question over the investigation made by the government.

The way Digvijay Singh attacked Santosh Hegde after Shanti Bhushan indicates that there is a deliberated bid to mislead people. Digvijay dubbed him an ineffective Lokayukta while Hegde retorted the Congress wants him to fight against Yeddyurappa on behalf of the party. In sum, there is no match of smear campaign against non-government members of the joint committee.

If a strong Lokpal is formed, it will have direct impact on leaders and bureaucrats which in fact the leaders do not want to let it happen. However, they know that people are tired of corruption, but their attitude shows that they are not willing to curb corruption, because their politics thrives on it. The Prime Minister said people have lost their patience regarding corruption and Lokpal Bill will be passed in the Monsoon session, but going by the versions of a quarter of leaders it looks unlikely that the Bill would be drafted in right perspective. If the discord is deepening wide owing to the basking in credit for passing the Bill, it is sheer unwarranted because the country is concerned with strong Lokpal Bill only.

If the members of civil society do not join the drafting panel for Lokpal Bill, once again a bill could come which would be liable to go futile. Notably, all Lokpal Bills so far are half-baked. The mud-slinging between civil society and leaders over Lokpal Bill is a matter of shame for the nation. The world knows that India tops the list of corrupt nations because leaders are not willing to bridle corruption. India and the world know it well that parochial political interests are creating hurdles in the preparation of Lokpal Bill.

Undoubtedly, a person of high probity and integrity should join the committee for drafting Lokpal Bill, but today it is difficult to find people with impeccable image and if there is a bid to rake up the past, it will be more complex to find honest people. The Congress realized that the people angered with slandering Anna Hazare and his associates could hit the party and it has distanced itself from the smear campaign as well as Pranab Mukherjee himself said that a powerful Lokpal Bill would be formed with help of Anna. But the party has not mentioned that when the mud-slinging would be stopped. If the Congress wants to take the credit for making Lokpal Bill, its intention is politically correct but slamming Anna and his associates would have repercussion on the functioning of the joint committee. In such a situation, the Prime Minister is required to intervene the matter. It is well known that he has failed to control corruption. It will be better that the Prime Minister should motivate all members of the joint committee to work together so that no hurdle should come in drafting the Lokpal Bill.                 


  (An original copy of the article published in Hindi on April 24, 2011 translated by the English Editorial)