Anna Hazare had told that if his Lokpal Bill, known as Jan Lokpal Bill, is not passed by 15/8/2011 he would begin his fast on 16/8/2011. The government had introduced its Bill in Lok Sabha which was different from the one drafted by Anna Hazare group. That bill was sent to a standing committee. Prashant Bhushan called the government Bill Promotion of Corruption Bill.
The government did not want a strong Lokpal Bill. Monsoon session usually begins in the middle of July. The government postponed it to the beginning of August. The government hid behind Delhi police to put restrictions on the fast and when arrests backfired it released the members. Anna Hazare was not in a hurry to leave Tihar jail and left it when Ramlila Ground, famous or notorious for crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers, was ready for his fast.
Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan appeared on various channels. Karan Thapar’s interview on CNN-IBN was a nasty one. He said Anna Hazare’s fast was blackmail and when told that Gandhi fasted he said that was blackmail. Ram Jethamalani had walked out on one occasion and Karan Thapar had got an award for that episode. Either Karan Thapar does not know blackmail is a crime and somebody can be punished for it or he knows and wrongly accused Anna Hazare and Gandhi of blackmail.
Kiran Bedi said “Anna is India, India is Anna.” That reminded many of Deo Kant Barooah who in 1974 said “Indira is India, India is Indira.” Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan disagreed with Kiran Bedi.
Feroze Varun Gandhi and Rajeev Chandrashekhar said they would introduce Jan Lokpal Bill as private member’s bill. The standing committee advertised for comments and suggestions and Congress MP from Bareilly sent Jan Lokpal Bill to it. A group called National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) sent its draft which is different from government and Jan Lokpal Bills. Some members of NCPRI are NAC members. It seems the government is using NCPRI to delay Lokpal Bill.
Anna Hazare has set 30/8/2011 to pass Jan Lokpal Bill. Government does not want to do it and parliamentary procedure is an excuse to delay the bill. When the government wants 17 bills get passed in 12 minutes. The constitution does not mention standing committee and standing committee’s recommendation is not binding on government or parliament. The government wants people to wait till winter session for Lokpal Bill to be passed. Many times MPs do not want to wait for an hour to discuss their topic and want suspension of Question Hour and when that is not granted disrupt the proceedings for the whole day. Once something is postponed it may never take place. Chandigarh was to go to Punjab on 26/1/1986. That was postponed and Chandigarh remains a Union Territory after 25 years.
Lokpal Bill has come and gone for 43 years. Beneficiaries of corruption do not want corruption to end. If Prevention of Corruption Act had been effective there would have been no need for Lokpal Bill. Over the years it was diluted, it became difficult to prosecute ministers, bureaucrats and judges, and as one judge put it, it became Preservation of Corruption Act.
It is people who are supreme and not parliament. It is wrong to say that it is an upper class movement because there is no Dalit or Tribal or Muslim leader in it. Many Dalits, Tribals and Muslims are upper class. Corruption affects all.
On 23/8/2011 Anna Hazare refused drip and hospitalisation and asked the people to resist non-violently if police come to take him away forcibly. The all-party meeting held at 3.30 p.m. on 24/8/2011 concluded without coming to a definite conclusion. NDA and Left Front wanted withdrawal of government bill and introduction of a strong Lokpal Bill. UPA did not want to withdraw the bill. After that Anna Hazare group had second round of talks with Pranab Mukherjee and Salman Khurshid. The talks failed. At 9.54 p.m. Prashant Bhushan said it was back to square one.
There is a strange thing of TV channels using separate cameras for people in studio, as if they are at separate places. If there are five people five cameras are used. The anchor speaks to the panellist who is to her left and she appears on the top left of TV and the panellist appears at the bottom left. The panellist on the right appears on left and vice versa.