Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Kiran Bedi

Anna and Arvind part ways

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal have parted ways. The issue was political formation. Many in IAC wanted to form a political party to fight corruption. Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and some others were opposed to it. The meeting on 19/9/2012 lasted nine hours. Yogendra Yadav was the moderator. Anna Hazare said those who want to form a political party can go ahead with it but should not use his name or photograph. Arvind Kejriwal said Anna Hazare’s decision was shocking, unbelievable and sad.

Baba Ramdev and some other people wanted a split between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal was opposed to all political parties. Kiran Bedi was in favour of BJP. Arvind Kejriwal did not want to join with Baba Ramdev as there were tax evasion cases against him. RSS people wanted to use IAC against Congress. Industrialist Sitaram Jindal had a role in arranging meetings of Anna Hazare with people opposed to Arvind Kejriwal.

IAC had made corruption an issue and had raised hopes of corruption-free India. Jan Lokpal Bill was its demand. Congress came with a Lopkpal Bill that was not acceptable to IAC but was passed in Lok Sabha. Anna Hazare’s fast at MMRDA Grounds did not have expected crowds. The fast was to last three days. He called off his fast on second day. Congress managed to disrupt Rajya Sabha and the Lokpal Bill was not passed. Chairman Hamid Ansari played a role in allowing discussion till midnight and sabotaging the bill.

IAC demanded resignation of 15 ministers for corruption. The ministers did not oblige. Anna Hazare had a secret meeting with Salman Khurshid. IAC members were surprised when they came to know about it. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai held fast at Jantar Mantar. Anna Hazare joined a few days later. The fast was called off on appeal by 22 persons. On the last day there was a decision to go political based on an SMS poll. Anna Hazare did not oppose it then.

Corruption is an issue. Congress is doing its best to divert attention from corruption. Coalgate became too hot to handle. Congress came with “reforms”. Soon coalgate was forgotten. TMC issued 72 hours deadline for rollback. Many parties opposed Congress and called for Bharat Bandh. After the deadline expired TMC announced withdrawal of support to UPA.

Fight against corruption is continuous process. Sometimes new challenges develop. Arvind Kejriwal was an RTI activist. RTI was instrumental in exposing corruption. Now two judges of the Supreme Court have made a mess of RTI by their verdict that only retired or serving justices of Supreme Court or chief justices of High Courts can head information commissions and half of the information commissioners should be judicial members. This verdict will create problems in fight against corruption.

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal may fight against corruption separately but it is not clear how effective they will be. It is time for Kumar Vishwas, Shazia Ilmi, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and other prominent IAC members to take sides. Shanti Bhushan is optimistic that they can win 2014 election. Yogendra Yadav thinks first election is to be lost, second election is to defeat, third election is to form government. In 2009 many people like Gopinath and Meera Sanyal contested as independents and lost.

To form government at centre, Arvind Kejriwal and others need to field 543 candidates and win 272 seats. Without 272 seats they will have to depend on others and make compromises. They should beware of moles who will pass on information and scuttle programmes. They should form a shadow cabinet and decide who will hold which portfolio if elected. Legislative Assembly elections are due in Gujarat and some other states before 2014. IAC members can test their strength during those elections. They need to take a stand against corporate debt restructuring. They need not take a stand against any issue unless it has something to do with corruption. They may take a stand against reservations in legislatures, government jobs and government-run educational institutions or avoid it.

Fight against corruption must continue

India Against Corruption seems to have lost direction and momentum in fight against corruption. IAC wanted a Lokpal Bill. That did not happen. They wanted right to reject and right to recall. Both are unlikely to happen soon. Anna Hazare seems unable or unwilling to lead the agitation. Other members should resume the fight against corruption.

IAC members need not go on indefinite fast. They can go on chain hunger strike. Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan can fast for some hours every day. Then Shazia Ilmi, Gaurav Bakshi and Manish Sisodia can take their turn. Then some other people fast. Every day the cycle is repeated. The fight for Lokpal should be separate from fight for Lokayuktas.

Elections are said to be major reason for corruption. That is partly true. Many people who don’t fight elections are also corrupt. In India elections take place throughout the year in some part or other. IAC must fight for a single election day once in five years. Elections to all Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly, Zilla Parishad, municipality, panchayat and other local body constituencies should be held on a single day. That will reduce corruption. A candidate should be allowed to contest from one constituency only.

IAC should fight for presidential system. Parliamentary democracy has failed. Coalition compulsions result in wrong people being ministers. Even when there is single party government in states there is dissidence. Someone who is not chief minister tries to become chief minister. President should be elected by MPs and MLAs. Vice President should be elected by MPs. Governors should be elected by MLAs. Direct election to President, Vice President and Governors are expensive.

IAC should fight for an easy process to remove corrupt judges, bureaucrats and other officials.

IAC should fight against corporate debt restructuring. Corporates who have borrowed must pay the debt as per the conditions on which they borrowed. Properties of defaulters should be attached. List of borrowers and defaulters should be public.

IAC should fight for abolition of Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils. Parties sell Rajya Sabha seats.

IAC should not worry about not being representative of OBCs, Muslims, SCs, STs and so on. Those who talk of such things have lost elections.

Fight against corruption demands fight for a new constitution. IAC should draft a new constitution. Supreme Court judges should be appointed by President after approval by Parliament. High Court judges should be appointed by Governor after approval by Legislative Assembly. Let not IAC worry about self-styled followers of Ambedkar protesting against new constitution. Those followers do not have much following. Ambedkar did not write the constitution. He was the chairman of the drafting committee of the constitution. The followers of Ambedkar have not protested when the constitution has been amended around hundred times.

Gang of Four

Gang of Four originally meant Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan who were powerful during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in China. Anna Hazare spoke of Gang of Four in UPA government without mentioning names. One of them is P. Chidambaram. Second is likely to be Kapil Sibal. Who are the other two? Some talk of Digvijay Singh and Manish Tewari but they are not ministers.

Whoever they are the Gang of Four has succeeded in diverting attention from corruption. First there was attack on Prashant Bhushan ostensibly for his remarks on Kashmir. Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi did not agree with Prashant Bhushan. Then Arvind Kejriwal joined the august company headed by George Bush of people who were attacked by shoes. Then reports appeared about Kiran Bedi’s travel bills. When the first report appeared Arun Bhatia said Kiran Bedi should sue Indian Express for five crore rupees for defamation and give that money to her trust. However Kiran Bedi did not do that. Swamy Agnivesh accused Arvind Kejriwal of misappropriation. Two core committee members quit. Anna Hazare took the vow of silence.

It was not all doom and gloom for activists. NDTV conferred Indian of the Year Award on Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal.

On 29/10/2011 core committee met in Ghaziabad and decided to continue the fight for Jan Lokpal Bill.

China’s Gang of Four members lost power and went to prison. Anna Hazare and Yashwant Sinha have said that P. Chidambaram should be in jail.

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