The year 2011 seems to be a litmus test for the UPA-2 dispensation. The Congress led government has never been in such an uncomfortable situation in the recent past as it is today. One after another, some of its political leaders, occupying high seats in the government, are suspected of malfeasance within their ministry.
Exposure of dubious roles of Suresh Kalmadi, former chairman of the CWG Organizing Committee; A. Raja, former telecommunication minister; and DMK MP, Kanimozhi, have already invited much criticism against the government.
Now the resignation of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, who is alleged to have forced the promoter of Chennai-based telecom company Aircel to sell his firm to a Malaysian firm, Maxis in 2006, has opened all doors of condemnation.
Unaccounted amount of money that has been siphoned off in the recent past from the public exchequer is a matter of concern for all.
The opposition parties and the media played its part well by taking such developments as opportunity to remind the government of its liability to the country and citizens. However, the Congress party has one positive point among these negative developments. Arguably, it can be said that the party spared no one who was caught hand in gloves.
On the other hand, Team Anna and Baba Ramdev, spearheading the fight against corruption brought fresh troubles to the government. Ramdev was, however, driven away from the Ramlila Maidan, and has been silenced. But Anna Hazare and his team have been constantly hitting headlines for creating fresh troubles for the government if their demand of a ‘strong Lokpal’ is not met.
Anna has already declared to go on an indefinite fast from August 16, if the draft of Lokpal, which they had drafted is not considered. Team Anna is insisting on various points, one of which is the inclusion of the Prime Minister under the Lokpal ambit.
Team Anna is called the ‘voice of civil society’ while some people in power have dubbed him as a self-imposed people’s representative.
The question here is: can the much debated Lokpal bill wipe out corruption from the country?
Anna Hazare has support of some well-known social activists and senior lawyers like Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan. But he himself is not a law expert. So it can be said that Anna is being used as an iconic figure in the whole tamasha.
The fact is, today only 64.84 % people in India are literate (2001 census). And a literate person is defined as anyone over the age of 7, who can read and write any language. Also, not all who are literate have access to new media and have an interest in political developments.
Hence it would not be unjust to say that a majority of people are unaware of, or do not know about the Lokpal bill. It is also believed that all the people who know of the Lokpal bill, may not agree with the draft which the Team Anna has drafted. He is hell bent on some issues, which as state earlier, includes bringing the office of the PM under its ambit.
This can be understood that ours is a country where allegation and counter-allegations in politics is a common phenomenon. It can also be argued that the PM could be alleged under fake charges to diminish his stature. And hence, for political mileage the Lokpal may be used against people of such stature.
Now everybody likes a corruption free country; a country where the word ‘corruption’ becomes meaningless. This is possible not only by enacting newer laws but also by taking stern actions against the people breaching the boundary – which the present Congress led government is doing, taking actions against the accused ministers and sending them to jail if found guilty.
Now we all want a strong Lokpal to curb corruption. But can Team Anna assure us that their draft, if considered, will make India a completely corruption-free country?
[Shafaque Alam is a postgraduate student at the Centre for Culture, Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia.
Views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Jamia Journal’s editorial policy]