Corruption has become a major issue of debate in the country, especially after the public support received by Gandhian Anna Hazare, who launched a crusade against corruption. All governments, political parties have been forced to take a positive stand on the menace plaguing each and every aspect of the Indian society. The Union Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs and Earth science Department, Ashwani Kumar spoke his mind in an interaction with Dainik Jagran.

How justified was Anna’s agitation demanding Jan Lokpal Bill?

No doubt, corruption has emerged as one of the most important issues. It affects all.  Responding to Anna’s call, the Central government took a far reaching step and decided to include members of Civil Society into the joint draft committee.

But why was the government for the first time forced to accept the demand of including members of Civil Society for drafting a Bill?

Whenever the government is in the process of formulating a law, the government agencies invite suggestions by the stakeholders via internet.  Corruption is not an issue of any one individual, NGO or a political party. The Congress is committed to make a strong anti-corruption law.

Several institutions to check corruption already exist. Is another body like Lokpal needed?

I want to make it clear that if we have not been successful in checking corruption, it does not mean we don’t have laws in place. Rather, they have not been executed properly. But now people do not want to make any compromises on the issue.

Does this law also aim to bring NGOs under the ambit of Lokpal?

A single opinion has emerged on the issue, and that is to eradicate corruption from the country. Be it NGO, corporate, politician, bureaucracy, assemblies or Parliament. We have to weed out corruption. And for that an effective body is required.

Stating that votes are up for sale, Hazare in a way has raised questions over the democratic framework itself?

Anna’s statement is inappropriate. Such statements are not expected from him. Such statements question ethos of democracy itself. The roots of democracy in the country are very strong.

Like Anna, the Chief Election Commissioner is also suggesting electoral reforms?

Nobody is discounting the necessity of electoral reforms. But any such move should be aimed at strengthening the democracy and not downgrading it.

JPN/Bureau