Be it political shrewdness or restraints, the statement made by Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid on the efforts of the Centre to provide constitutional status to the Lokpal has come as a major sigh of relief amidst the ongoing brouhaha over the smoldering issue. The string of developments on the Lokpal issue over the past few months is bound to leave the top brains in an obfuscated situation. After the sudden change of guard by the Centre, one finds it hard to believe that it is the same government which was silent over Lokpal for past seven years but when it was condemned about rampant corruption from all quarters, the Union Government came up with a feeble Ombudsman mechanism. There is no harm if the Centre wants to checkmate the Opposition or portray the iconic image of Rahul Gandhi by following his recommendation to give a constitutional shape to anti-corruption watchdog mechanism, nonetheless simultaneously the welcome initiative must not be used as a prop to delay the approval of the Lokpal Bill. After the Centre was accused of rampant corruption, it had first promised to approve the Lokpal Bill in monsoon session of the Parliament, however the proceedings were delayed till the winter session. As the winter session is at hand, a debate on providing a constitutional status to the Lokpal is bound to raise doubts over the intentions of the Union Government. There are many reasons to doubt their intentions. The first comes whether there has hardly been any debate in the Parliament’s Standing Committee on the issue of providing constitutional status to Lokpal. Secondly, an amendment in constitution would be required to bring about the desired change. In cannot be overlooked that the Union Government sans the required majority for constitutional amendment and leave aside the Opposition parties, the Centre has not discussed the issue properly with its own Cabinet members.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh through a letter to Gandhian Anna Hazare has expressed his solidarity for the formation of Lokpal mechanism but does not assure of any stipulated deadline for the process. Simultaneously, people are well-versed with the similar tall claims made by Manmohan Singh when he took over the charge of Prime Minister in 2004. Whatever be it, the views of Salman Khurshid give strength to the doubt which hints at intentions to delay the evolving of Lokpal mechanism. Undoubtedly, there can be nothing better than a constitutional status to the Lokpal and as per the views of Salman Khurshid the Ombudsman would have more power than the Election Commission, but now there should be no further delay in formation of an anti-corruption watchdog mechanism. The Centre is well aware of the delay in the formation of Lokpal for 42 years. Therefore, questions being raised over the intentions behind the claims of Salman Khurshid come as no major surprise. The doubts can be only elucidated if the Centre lives up to its commitment to approve the Lokpal Bill in winter session.