The fight between the Congress and Team Anna in the context of corruption seems to have taken a new height, as it was sensed when the address of Sonia Gandhi, training gun at Anna and his entourage, was read out during a ceremony of laying foundation stone for a rail project in Uttarakhand. Before this, the Congress spokespersons especially party general secretary Digvijay Singh used to take a potshot at Team Anna. Sometimes Cabinet ministers were also seen firing salvo at Team Anna, but this is the first time that Sonia Gandhi herself pulled up Anna and his team stating that merely giving speech would not curb corruption and those who launched crusade against it should first scan themselves whether their integrity is as clear as crystal clear. This statement of Sonia is not unjust but it is indeed surprising, why did she feel to give such tough message to Team Anna on this occasion? Could it be deciphered as the fallout of Team Anna’s pressure being created on the Centre regarding Jan Lokpal Bill? Whatever may be the reality, but it cannot be ignored that nothing tangible has happened according to the five-prong formula to contain corruption which was announced by Sonia during the plenary celebration of the Congress held in the last year.        

Truly speaking, the Central establishment is committed to bring in strong Lokpal in the winter session of the Parliament and the Prime Minister himself is categorical about it, but is there anyone in position to make sure that the Bill would be passed? The moot point is, what measure is being taken to checkmate corruption apart from bringing Lokpal Bill?  Everyone knows that Lokpal alone would not be sufficient to bridle corruption. For the Congress – led UPA government, it is difficult to give explanation about what steps were taken to check graft after the huge irregularities in organizing CWG were unearthed. The Central government is committed to remove corruption, but it has no meaning until a concrete step is taken in this context. In fact, the Centre has not taken any step to curb corruption in the last seven years. Truly speaking, had Anna not come out of his village Ralegan Siddhi and sounded bugle against corruption in Delhi, there would be nothing more than giving only speech on removing graft and malpractices in the system. If the Centre is serious towards curbing corruption, as it is being claimed time and again, why is then the party doing somersault to slander the image of Team Anna? Has Digvijay Singh been entrusted with responsibility of making disparaging remarks against Team Anna. Why so much effort is being made against those who stand against corruption?

It is unfortunate that the Congress is continuously slandering the image of Team Anna. The Congress seems to be more keen on playing politics on controlling corruption. Possibly this may be a reason that Team Anna is always in the firing lines of the Congress. Team Anna is also required to wait till the winter session of the Parliament because the Prime Minister has made a promise of bringing Lokpal. It is not fair that Team Anna is not only creating unwanted pressure on the government but also indicating the Lokpal system should be made according to their conditions. The way Team Anna has recently scrapped the Bihar’s Lokayukta Bill, reflects that they have got some special rights to frame Lokayukta and Lokpal system. If Team Anna wants to avoid criticism, they should not plunge into such an activity which could dent their image. They are held accountable for the questions raised on their credibility. The proactiveness of Team Anna suggests their political inclination. The way they handled the Hisar issue, indicates that their political ambition has gone high. That’s why Sonia Gandhi suggested them not to make much hue and cry.

It has become clear from the address of Sonia Gandhi in Uttarakhand that tackling corruption is on the top of priority, but this is not enough. She must feel that a potent reason of distressed ambience gripping the nation is economic turmoil, getting grievous day by day. Inflation has hit common man and the economy of India as well. The government’s decision to put the responsibility on RBI to control inflation is not fair. The rise in interest rates has had repercussion on the industrial output and slump in the investment and lax on taking bold decision related to economic issues have added to the misery. It is fair that Sonia Gandhi is concerned with internal feud of the government, but sorting out them is not an easy task because senior ministers seem to be in bellicose mood. The fallout of government’s internal feud has come to the light. The long piles of bills for the winter session of the Parliament spell out the message that the government has stopped functioning.

Even after the Lokpal Bill is passed in the winter session of the Parliament, the challenges for the Centre would not disappear. As the pace of the development has slowed down owing to failure of controlling corruption, the situation is looking grim. Fighting with corruption is a constant process which could be controlled to an extent, rather than complete removal. It would be easier to give pace to slowing economy. This is not a job which could be put on hold. If the economy is pushed up, the cloud of disappointment resulted out of corruption could be removed easily.          

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on November 13, 2011 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)