Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
What takes 500 odd elected representatives, sitting in the ‘temple of democracy’ to pass a bill which, by all means could be our answer to the deep-rooted corruption in the country? A bill which has lingered for over four decades without getting an approval? Grit, sense of responsibility towards the nation,the courage to stand up for right?-sadly none of those. It took a 74 year old man and his team to literally force our Parliament into introducing The Lokpal Bill.It took 43 years and an extended winter session for the Lokpal to see the light of the day and get a majority in the Lower House of the Parliament. The moment was called historic and as the bill went to the Upper House and a new history was created – good or bad, that is for you to decide.
The contentious Lokpal was passed on the first day of an extended winter session following a day long stormy debate over the same- replete with a shayari session between the leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj and Human Resource Development minister Kapil Sibal and a well-rehearsed walkout by Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Mulayam Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. Yadav in his defence referred to the bill as a weak one which was introduced under the pressure of Hazare’s agitation. Notably, he and his party rejected the very idea of the Ombudsman,so when did he really demand a ‘strong’ bill? We are still wondering. As the day ended,the bill was passed, with most of the amendments being rejected by Dhwani Mat, but the most disappointing failure was when the Lokpal failed to get a constitutional status and it thus ended with Sonia Gandhi blaming the Bhartiya Janata Party for the same.
Moving a step further towards the enaction of the historic law, the government tabled the bill to this effect in the Upper House. The second day started with speculations that the bill would not be voted upon as the government was trying to negotiate in order to gather support and numbers,as it does not enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha. And as predicted,voting did not take place. The last day of winter session began with some sensible arguments over the bill where Mr Arun Jaitely of the BJP initiated the debate saying that it would lead to a constitutional havoc and the centre would be encouraged to usurp the rights of the state through the provision of setting up of Lokyuktas. The BJP leader also opposed quota for minorities , inclusion of NGOs and keeping the CBI out of the purview of the Ombudsman.The Trinamool Congress also stepped out at a crucial point, aligning themselves with the opposition on the issue of Lokyuktas.
By the end of the day , their were around 187 proposed amendments and bill was largely rejected as it was ‘constitutionally vulnerable’ and hence, there was no voting over the bill. The worst was yet to be seen when an Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Rajniti Prasad played the cheapest and poorest form of politics as he snatched the bill and tore it off into pieces,giving him more publicity than he ever received in his political career.The debate over the Lokpal was disrupted and the chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the Rajya Sabha after the ruckus in the Parliament.
After this well-orchestrated drama , there were several questions which are yet to be answered. Firstly , if Trinamool Congress did not agree to the bill then why did it not withdraw its support in Lok Sabha? Why did they choose to hang it in the upper house? Secondly, if the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party found the bill weak , then why did they walk out of the Parliament and not choose to use their power and vote against the same? Lastly and most importantly, when the Congress knew that they would be challenged over the issues of the autonomy of the CBI and the Prime Minister in ambit of the Ombudsman , then why did they not amend it in the beginning? With these easily visible and intentional mistakes, neither the opposition nor the government can justify themselves for the delay in the formulation of a strong Lokpal bill. With the bill preserved in Parliament,the Congress is hoping that the tables would turn after the elections with the Mr Rahul Gandhi leading the crusade in Uttar Pradesh using his old tactics of sleeping in the home of a dalit and eating a ‘little bit’ of their ‘little bit of food’.
Simultaneous to this Parliamentary drama , activist Anna Hazare had also begun his hunger strike on December 27th which ended on the second day of the same due to his deteriorating health and cold response from the crowd in Mumbai where he was fasting . While the Mumbaikars were criticized for their poor response to Hazare’s call, what Team Anna fails to see is the fact that they are losing credibility ,their image is crumbling in the of the public and their movement is losing its grace. What they need to understand is, our Fundamental Rights are given in order strengthen the democracy and people and not to destabilize the very base of the same- the Parliament.Team Anna were initially criticized for forcing their bill and decision over it on the Parliament , thereby reducing the glory of democracy to nothing. To conclude , the least that we could see is the similar destiny of the Women Reservation Bill and the People’s Ombudsman Bill.We should thus not be shocked as we are used to putting up with the worst. And waiting- we are all experts at it.It would not be wrong to compare the condition of the nation to the deteriorating health of the man behind the movement-Anna Hazare.