The monsoon session of the Parliament as usual began with a discordant note. The Opposition was determined to push the government to corner for soaring prices and corruption, while the ruling dispensation wanted to fend off discussion on this issue. Later on, there was a debate on this matter, but it was not on the expected line. There was only a shallow discussion on the issue of dearness while the debate on corruption was mere a passing the buck. Only a few less significant bills were passed with a consensus between the ruling party and the Opposition. When it was required to have a serious talk on skyrocketing price and corruption, which have paralyzed the nation, in order to reach a solution, both the ruling and the Opposition looked all set to settle personal score. The ruling dispensation and the Opposition do not have only responsibility to run the House properly but also seek solution to the complex issues the country is facing with. Is not it surprising, inflation has reached 10 percent and it hardly seems to come down, the Parliament has started the same dull and drab debates on this sensitive issue as if it had witnessed many times ago. Corruption is a serious issue as dearness, but there was also no concrete talk on it to reach any conclusion. What’s the reason that there was no meaningful talk on the Lokpal Bill even when Anna Hazare has already announced a crusade against it? Are the ruling party and the Opposition not familiar that Anna is solemnly determined to stage agitation against the government’s draft of the Lokpal Bill?  

Anna Hazare’s right to show his disapproval should be protected. He has right to protest the Lokpal Bill tabled in the Parliament. It is not fair that the Delhi Police reluctantly allowed him to stage protest with more than two dozens of conditions. It would be wise that the Central government especially, the Home Ministry should understand, the more they resist Anna, the more he will get public support, because people know that no effective measure is being taken to bridle corruption. This is not a proper time to stop Anna from staging agitation rather, he needs to be heeded upon. It seems that the government is keen to make his agitation futile. Owing to the agitation made by Anna earlier, the government took decision to prepare the draft of the Lokpal Bill with the help of Team Anna, but the Centre could not agree with the suggestions of Civil Society. When the Parliament assures of its commitment of making a system to bridle corruption, it finishes its business by handing over the Lokpal Bill to the Standing Committee. It is disappointing that first the government and then the Parliament could not even pacify Anna. If Anna is compelled to launch agitation, then it is the defeat of the ruling dispensation and the Opposition as well.

Undoubtedly, Team Anna will have to understand that the Prime Minster and High Court should be brought under the purview of Lokpal, if corruption has to be controlled. Similarly, a single legislation could not eradicate corruption, but the government must learn that there is no alternative to check corruption which is annoying people. There is no mentioning of Ombudsman in the government’s Lokpal Bill, which means neither will there be noose around the corrupt departments and employees of the state governments nor will common man get reprieve from corruption. In such a situation it would be better that the Parliament should have given some suggestion and the government would have debated it for framing a system to control corruption. But now the corruption has reached its crescendo and it becomes heartburns for every Indian. This has been corroborated through different surveys as well as referendum conducted in Chandani Chowk, Delhi, and Amethi by Team Anna. However the Congress has refused the results of the referendum, it is a stark reality that common people have become tired of corruption. If this referendum is conducted in other parts of India, people would unanimously raise their voice saying corruption has gone unbridled and the government is not able to control it.

Instead of making a system to check corruption, the government is putting blame on Anna. The BJP is protesting the Prime Minister’s expulsion from the purview of Lokpal, but the party seems to be shying away from Anna Hazare. The image of the BJP has also got dented owing to decision on the resignation of Yeddyurappa and its reluctancy on Lokpal Bill. In fact both the national parties have been exposed on the issue of corruption. As far as regional parties are concerned, hardly is there any party which is not involved in corruption. In this situation common man has pinned his hope on Anna. At present the credibility of leaders has hit the bottom and Anna has jeopardized their existence.

The government’s stand on Lokpal Bill is very weak and it does not seem to be effective in controlling leaders and bureaucrats. It is a matter of great concern that the message is going around the world about the Indian government being non-serious on corruption. Perhaps this is the reason that America has issued a statement in support of Anna saying that a peaceful protest against corruption should not be suppressed. The Indian government did not appreciate this proposition. The government said it is a sort of interference into internal matter, but when the world feels that corruption has become a big hurdle to the path of development of the country, reactions regarding it cannot be ignored.  The world community likes to boost its economic and trade relation with India if it is free from rampant corruption in desire of smooth economic and trade activities. It is clear if the political leadership of the country has to safeguard its credibility and make groove on the world arena, they will have to fight corruption to the hilt. No matter what political leaders think, today when the country is celebrating Independence Day, common man feels distressed with corruption.
(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on August 14, 2011 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)