Uttarakhand Chief Minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri has hurled challenge to the Central government by passing the Lokpal Bill on the line of Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill. Spurred with the passing of this bill, Anna has mounted the pressure on the Central government to pass the bill in the winter session of the Parliament. The government too is facing this pressure, but it is trying to blunt the efforts being made by the Team Anna. Team Anna is also responsible for its weakening position as they keep changing their stand. Sometimes they warn the government or they get satisfied with the Centre’s move or at time they get lose their faith in the ruling dispensation. It seems that they get diverted from their words of not hobnobbing with party politics. Recently, Anna Hazare once again retreated that he would go across the country for urging people not to vote for the Congress if Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session of the Parliament; though he earlier mentioned for not doing so.

Sometime back the Prime Minister firmly said while addressing the meeting of the Governors that curbing corruption was the need of hour. The Central government has taken some steps to bridle corruption. The government has sent notice to those having accounts with foreign banks on sly and geared up for bringing out the Public Grievance Redressal Bill. The impact of crusade against corruption and black money has been felt even in the G-20 meet. Nowadays, not only India but other countries are also reeling under graft. Hence, there has been extensive talk on corruption in this meeting. In India, there is a reverberation of the Anna movement against corruption, while the developed countries are witnessing the campaign against huge malpractices and highhandedness in financial institutes. It is good that the Central government is coming with the Public Grievance Redressal Bill, but it would have been better had it been brought out during the UPA-I, because the Parliamentary Committee had strongly recommended for it in 2008. Nobody knows, why was it scrapped then?

Belatedly though, if the people are equipped with the Public Grievance Redressal Act on the line of RTI, there would be a check on corrupt officials, but it cannot be ignored that the slackness of government department has piled up the problems for information commission. Many RTI related applications are yet to be sorted out. So, it is palpable that without setting up a proper system in order to make the Public Grievance Redressal Act effective, corruption could not be contained. Surprisingly, Team Anna is not appreciating the Public Grievance Redressal Bill. According to Team Anna, the Centre is trying to weaken the Lokpal Bill. Right now, it would be premature to reach such conclusion, because there has been no discussion on the draft of the Public Grievance Redressal Bill. Cautioning the government regarding the Lokpal Bill, Team Anna reminded the Centre of Hisar by-election. It is true that Anna effect is also considered behind the crushing defeat of the Congress candidate in Hisar, but there is also a fact that common man did not welcome this campaign of Team Anna.

It does not augur well that with the arrival of Anna Hazare in Delhi, the feud between the Congress and Team Anna has increased. Digvijay Singh is tackling every attack of Team Anna. The objection of Team Anna to the attitude of the Congress could be justified, but recently Kiran Bedi’s airfare issue has dented the credibility of Team Anna. The way Arvind Kejriwal being pushed into corner in connection with not keeping account of contributions, cast doubts on the intention of the government, but Team Anna cannot escape the question over their morality. It is pretty good, despite Kiran Bedi and Kejriwal being besieged with moral questions, Team Anna looks united, but if they want to give befitting reply to the attacks of the Congress, they need to stand firm. If they show solidarity, the Congress-led government will get to know that attacking on Team Anna will not be fruitful. The priority of the government should be iron out wrinkles while taking on corruption instead targeting Team Anna. The challenges for the government are piling up especially with the passing of the Lokpal Bill by the Uttarakhand government.

It is almost decided that the winter session of the Parliament will be witnessing the fuss over corruption, which could be boosted with the rath yatra of LK Advani against corruption. There could be an acid test of claims of government along with other political parties for curbing corruption. Undoubtedly, mere framing law would not contain corruption. Graft and malpractices can be controlled by making an effective law, but it is difficult to eradicate them completely. Corruption has become a part of Indian life style. For curbing corruption effectively, common people will have to bring out change in their conduct. People will have to drop the habit of getting their work done by bribing as well as they need to draw a line between moral and immoral. Particularly, the corporate world should learn this lesson, because they bend any extent to accomplish their task. With a view to the RTI or coming Public Grievance Redressal Bill and Lokpal Bill, it is important to note that they need to be used precisely if they have to be made effectively. It is a welcome move that the government has shown its interest in checking corruption, but it will be more effective when people of the country will also come with the same intention. The movement of Team Anna could motivate common man to stand against corruption, but it is disappointing that they are now indulged in politicking. If Anna and his team are involved in politics even indirectly, they will lose their credibility.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on November 6, 2011 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)