“Super-government fears haunt MPs”
That is the headline in the paper today which carries the list of apprehensions the MPs have with the tabled lokpal bill. Now they have the right to be afraid as their neck is on the line when they pass that bill. It is essentially a green signal for their prosecution (ideally of course). But as I read the news I couldn’t help but think if these MPs consider us so foolish. When you read the article you will understand why I made that statement. I will pull out some excerpts from the article and then analyse them. I wont talk out of context and will keep my analysis completely honest. Also, I am providing the link to the original article so that the reader may verify if I have taken anything out of context and interpreted it wrongly or maliciously. So lets being the analysis
Basudev Acharya of the CPI (M) said his party would move an amendment “if it finds that the principle of federalism has been violated.” Most regional parties supported only an “enabling” model legislation for the States that was “not mandatory”.
This is in regard to the mandatory establishment of the Lokayukta in the states. Now history is the best teacher to all. Way back in 1959 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) were started in our country. These local self Governments were to be extended all over the country and a resolution was passed to do the needful. But PRIs were set up in every village only after the 1992 Act which made it compulsory for the states to set up PRIs within one year from the passing of the Act. Similar is the case with the Lokayukta which has to be established in all the states but till now only a few states have actually established them and in these states there is no uniformity with regards to the structure and function of the Lokayukta. Hence, it is not only desirable but has become necessary for the center to make a law that mandates the states to do its job. There is no breach of federal structure here as the states are abusing their power and kicking their responsibilities out of the window. In view of such a condition this law becomes necessary.
The most exciting part of the political theatre that was played out in Parliament on Wednesday centred around the inclusion of minorities and women among those sections of society that must be represented in the Lokpal.
This is something I appreciate. The opposition is opposed to this proposal and rightly so. What is the need to reserve places in such an institution where you need people for certain qualification. By the time a person from minority reaches that age and experience required to become lokpal I don’t think he needs reservation. His qualifications and competency should give him that post and not his community. Besides if you cannot trust lokpal to rise above social evils like casteism then there is really no point of setting up such an institution
And as for the Shiv Sena, it was in any case, opposed to the very creation of a Lokpal. One MP joked: “The BJP will now make it a Hindu-Muslim issue and all the secular parties will join hands.”
Even lokpal cannot prosecute any MP for his words in the Parliament. Yet Kapil Sibal wants to moderate us in our social networking sites and let his colleagues utter any kind of nonsense in the Parliament. It is beyond me to fathom the reasons behind Shiv Sena’s opposition and neither am I interested to know the reason. Experience has taught me that you cannot expect any logic from that particular quarter.
There was almost complete unanimity – cutting across parties – that if MPs were to be free to vote “according to their conscience” and “not be subjected to party whips,” the Lokpal Bill would surely be defeated. In fact, some MPs said this much. Biju Janata Dal’s Jay Panda has been publicly campaigning for a “free vote” on all Bills except on a motion of no confidence.
For the benefit of those who do not know, a “whip” is a direction issued by a party instructing all its MPs (at center) or MLAs (at State) to be present in the house at the time of voting and vote according to the party direction. Meaning, first thing is that you are not allowed to bunk. Secondly, you MUST vote and cannot abstain from voting and also you must vote according to what the party leader says. If the leaders says vote FOR then you must vote FOR. If you fail to follow the instruction then you will face action from the party and may even be expelled from the party. If you are expelled from the party then you will lose the seat in the parliament.
First thing first, so many bills don’t get passed because there will be no one to vote in the Parliament and State legislatures. So, when you fail to respect the fact that you need to do your job by staying in the house and listening to the deliberations and finally vote, how can you claim a free vote? Even if the party leaders and cabinet wants to pass the bill, will all the MPs want the same? Its a bill that will stop them from making money and obviously they will vote against it citing some trivial reason. OK, even if we agree for free vote then why not extend it to everything? Why leave no confidence motion out of it? Why not allow all the MPs were to vote according to their conscience in a no confidence motion? (FYI – If a government loses no-confidence motion in the parliament then the government falls and new government has to be formed). The answer to my question is the answer to the question in the above excerpt.
Anant Geete (Shiv Sena) said: “A powerful Lokpal would in fact upset the checks and balances in our Constitution and the principle of accountability in a parliamentary democracy even as it would erode the authority of the government of the day.” It was a very wrong move, he warned.
Ahem. Thats a lot of words actually. Nothing of this sort will happen. We are already observing what kind of checks and balances are working in the present scenario. Multi-crore scams have been happening since independence and not even one case has been solved properly. When Shiv Sena itself is acting like a bunch of hooligans without any check you cannot expect to make such a statement and not be laughed at. The CBI, ED, ECI, CVC, Supreme Court, etc are there to make sure that there is accountability in the system. But they have either failed or are not enough for all kind of complex situations. Lokpal or an institution like it is necessary to enforce accountability in the system. That is such a basic fact which even a child understands but for some reason Shiv Sena is not getting a hang of.
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh asked the million dollar question: “when almost everyone in the country is deemed to be corrupt [by the Anna team], from where will come an honest Lokpal? Will not a Lokpal be in a position to blackmail a duly elected government?”
When we are entrusting the nation’s security into the hands of politicians is it difficult for us to try Lokpal instead? Do we really have anything to lose? Rather, the question Mr. Singh should answer is that is he a 5th std student who cannot understand what to speak in Parliament? Instead of wasting the precious time by passing sarcasm deliberate on the proper issues like CBI jurisdiction or reservation? As for the second question, he himself knows how to blackmail a coalition government to do stuff by hanging the sword of support on their necks. When such blatant crimes are being committed on daily basis it is us, the people, who must decide if Lokpal will be a boon or bane. Its us who have sent you there wants a Lokpal to make sure you do your job right. We are not fools or idiots who do not understand the implications of the Act if passed and repercussions if it is not passed yet again. With all the irregularities taking place during general election based on which we can question the credibility of the elected government he must not ask such a question. Besides, logically there is no way in which Lokpal can hold the government hostage since a lokpal can be removed by the Parliament itself rendering his question redundant and mildly stupid.
Analysis aside, their general condition could be sensed by these reactions. They are apprehensive to pass the bill and will do anything and everything to stop it from happening. The timing of introduction of the bill is consistent with the previous attempts to pass it where the bill lapsed as the session ended and the next government never took it up. If it is not passed in this session, then they will have to use the budget session to pass it which is not gonna happen since there are so many things left to do in the budget session itself like the DTC and the GST which are likely to miss the deadline anyway. In my personal opinion the bill is not strong enough yet and still needs tweaking like bringing the CBI under Lokpal and also the investigation must be supervised by the Lokpal and not by CVC. A weal lokpal will be as good as no lokpal at all. I will be looking forward to what the opposition will do here. If they really want the bill to pass, then they must push for the amendments and then send it for voting. If UPA wants to really pass the bill then they must agree to the amendments and then send it for voting. The fate of this bill will really show the people if these politicians really want to make a difference or is it all just an elaborate drama to fool the people. What do you really think? Are we fools? Or do we understand the drama taking place and will react accordingly?