Kamala Kanta Dash, Beyondheadlines
Anna Hazare who has become a national icon in last few weeks, suspended his fast at Ramlila. Calling the support through the ‘Sense of the House’ in the Parliament a half-victory, he has declared to do fast again, if a strong Lokpal Bill is not passed in the coming months. Expressing satisfaction, Mr Hazare thanked the Parliament to have reached a consensus on Team Anna’s three point demand. He has declared his plans to continue the struggle to bring electoral reform where there will be provisions to stop people with criminal background to entre in to legislatures, both Parliament and state assemblies. ‘Recall’ and ‘Reject’ are going to be the focus of next phase of this movement. Recall refers to the right of citizens to remove a non-performing MP before the expiry of the term and Reject refers to having a ‘No One’ column in the ballot box.
Dedicating the victory to the people of India, Anna has appealed to celebrate the victory with non-violent and peaceful means. Anna has been taken into Naresh Trehan’s Medanta a private hospital in Gurgaon. Mr Trehan and his team kept a close eye on Mr. Hazare at Ramlila on an hourly basis to ensure medical support to the fasting activist. The nationwide celebration has been indicative of the release of suppressed frustration against the system for decades. Ramlila Maidan in the morning saw a full audience somewhere crossing atleast 50,000 and reaching 70,000 and in the evening India Gate in Centre of Delhi saw somewhere around same number.
I would once again reiterate that it is a welcome sign to listen to different voices before we make a law. But this needs to be institutionalized so that the NGOs, civil society groups, activists and researchers can be invited to participate in an informed debate. Arvind Kejriwal’s suggestion that MPs need to go to each Gram Sabha of their constituency and get consent on each legislation does not seem practical. What perhaps is required now is what Meghnad Desai mentioned to at least double the seats of MPs and Medha Patkar added the need of gender parity in political representation; one male and one female representative from each Lok Sabha constituency.
Religious and community leaders like Syed Ahmed Bukhari and Udit Raj have expressed concern over the inclusive nature of the Anna Movement. Udit Raj believes that a Jan Lokpal Bill will tinker with the constitution and may target the officials belonging to dalit and minority communities. As the debate has just started and as the Parliament has just heard the voice of the civil society, these concerns are very serious and must be addressed by the Standing Committee before it prepares a draft for a strong anti-corruption Lokpal.
(The author is a public policy analyst and the founder president of INSAAN)