Hey, who really won?
Everybody must be sick and tired of the wall to wall coverage of the charade by Kisan Baburao Hazare and his rag tag group of pseudo lefties, do-gooders and idealists. This coverage was accompanied by the shrill, hysterical voices of the leading voices of the English Television `middia’ Barkha `Hysterical Trilling Schoolgirl’ Dutt and the ultra combative Arnab Goswami.
The charade has concluded with a victory for the people, a triumph for Team Anna and other such epithets. I believe that this is (i) a total sell out by Team Anna (ii) hoodwinking of the people of India by the `middia’ and Team Anna (iii) a total loss for Team Anna (iv) Team Anna is worse off than where it started from and (v) the Government is a real smooth operator.
Let me explain why I have reached these conclusions.
Following the introduction into Parliament of an admittedly weak, dilute, watered down version of the Lokpal Bill, Kisan Baburao Hazare started his second fast, which he would not withdraw unless the following demands were met:
The Government had to give a written commitment to table, discuss and pass in this monsoon session of Parliament i.e. by 30th August 2011, the Jan Lokpal Bill or a Bill that incorporates the principles of the Jan Lokpal Bill. If required, the Parliament session should be extended.
Non negotiable demands
The principles from the Jan Lokpal Bill that were non-negotiable – i.e. had to be included in the Lokpal Bill were
a) inclusion of the Prime Minister's office
b) The higher judiciary should be under the Lokpal
c) Inclusion of lower-level bureaucracy
The other matters that Team Anna wanted included, but were apparently negotiable were:
a) The inclusion of the anti-corruption wing of the CBI under the Lokpal.
b) The Lokpal to have its own investigating wing with full powers to probe and arrest anyone.
c) The Lokpal to have the power to investigate not just corruption but also whatever is perceived as incompetence.
d) The Lokpal to have the powers of punishment that is different in scale and scope from the laws set out in the Indian Penal Code.
e) The complete authority of the Lokpal in appointing people of his choice.
f) The legal absolution of the Lokpal and its employees in case things are done "in good faith".
There was one more demand, however I am unsure of its seriousness. This demand made by Shanti Bhushan was that any amendments to the Jan Lokpal Bill should be approved by Kisan Baburao Hazare.
Several discussions took place between various members of Team Anna and the Government with entreaties to Kisan Baburao Hazare to withdraw his fast. In interviews to the Television channels, especially on Karan Thapar’s program, Arvind Kejriwal reiterated the non negotiable points and said there was no question of withdrawing the fast unless they were included in the Lokpal Bill.
After a few days, it turns out that Kisan Baburao Hazare says that unless 3 points are included in a resolution to be passed by the Parliament he would not withdraw his fast. This was an acceptable compromise for both sides. Thus, Saturday 27th August 2011 was the day fixed for Parliament to debate the resolution.
Following the charade played out in our drawing rooms, we had a day of some truly glorious speeches by members of Parliament. Many of these were a delight to listen to. Honestly. Following the speeches, both houses of Parliament passed the following resolution.
“This House agrees in principle on the following issues for a strong and effective Lokpal.
1- All government departments to have citizen's charter with timeline.
2 - Employees of centre and state governments to be brought under purview of Lokpal and Lokayuktas respectively. Lower bureaucracy to be under lok pal through an appropriate mechanism.
3 - Establishment of lokayukts in the states. An effective Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states be set up.”
And further resolves to forward the proceedings of the house to the related Standing Committee for its perusal while finalizing its report.
As far as the Resolution is concerned, when is all that is referred to in the resolution to be done? Unknown.
Which version of the Lokpal Bill will the Standing Committee look at? Unknown.
What is the fate of the Jan Lokpal Bill? Gone into oblivion.
So where does that leave the demands.
Over all demands dropped and gone. Non-negotiable demands dropped and gone. Other demands dropped and gone. Minor demand dropped and gone.
Does this strike you as a victory for Team Anna? Not to me. To me it stinks. Do you have any respect left for Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal et al? But ask Barkha, Arnab, the newspaper editors and they will thump their chests and say it’s a triumph.