India

Rahul Breaks Silence on Lokpal, Wants Constitutional Body Like Election Commission

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

New Delhi: Breaking his silence, Congress party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today asserted that Lokpal Act alone will not help eradicate corruption and appeared to disapprove of Anna Hazare’s fast, saying “individual dictates” must not weaken democratic process as dangerous precedents could be set, premier news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

Agreeing that “corruption is pervasive” which operates at “every level”, Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian Parliament) that a set of effective laws along with creation of a statutory institution of Lokpal like the Election Commission would be required to fight the malaise.

“We cannot wish away corruption by the mere desire to see it removed from our lives. This requires a comprehensive framework of action and a concerted political programme supported by all levels of the State from the highest to the lowest. Most importantly, it requires firm political will,” he said during Zero Hour, amid noisy protests from National Democratic Alliance (NDA) members.

Referring to the anti—corruption campaign of Anna Hazare, Mr. Gandhi said it has “helped the people to articulate” disillusionment and that he “thanks him for that”.

At the same time, the Congress leader said, “individual dictates, no matter how well-intentioned, must not weaken the democratic process….A tactical incursion, divorced from the machinery of an elected government that seeks to undo the checks and balances created to protect the supremacy of Parliament sets a dangerous precedent for a democracy.”

“Today, the proposed law is against corruption. Tomorrow, the target may be something less universally heralded. It may attack the plurality of our society and democracy,” Mr. Gandhi warned in the House, as his sister Priyanka Gandhi watched from the visitors’ gallery.

“Witnessing the events of the last few days, it would appear that the enactment of a single bill will usher in a corruption—free society. I have serious doubts about this belief,” he said, adding an effective Lokpal “is only one element in the legal framework to combat corruption.”

He maintained that “Lokpal institution alone cannot be a substitute for a comprehensive anti—corruption code. A set of effective laws is required.”

His speech was disrupted by NDA members, who were protesting against his making a statement on the issue during Zero Hour. This triggered a clash with Congress members shouting back.

Speaker Meira Kumar ruled that she had allowed Mr. Gandhi to speak on the issue during Zero Hour after which Mr. Gandhi continued.

“We speak of a statutory Lokpal but our discussion cease at the point of its accountability to the people and the risk that it might itself become corrupt,” the Congress General Secretary told the packed House, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being among those in attendance.

“Why not elevate the debate and fortify the Lokpal by making it a Constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission of India? I feel the time has come for us to seriously consider this idea,” he said.

Full Text of Rahul Gandhi’s Address to Parliament
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