Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lokpal

The contention between the civil society representatives and the ministers seems to be the inclusion of the prime minister within the purview of the Lokpal bill. However, in the questionnaire that has been forwarded to the states, the questions comprehensively cover all other government functionaries - members of parliament, members of the judiciary, civil servants above the rank of joint secretary, etc. - asking for favourable or negative responses to their inclusion. One would have assumed that a stronger anti-corruption bill would automatically include these sections of the political machinery. In the media, the debate is exclusively over the inclusion of the prime minister. So are we to assume that the other categories mentioned are implicitly covered by the jurisdiction of the bill and that the questionnaire is only a formality?

The PM made some statements yesterday in support of Baba Ramdev's hunger strike. It's interesting to read how much attention the Baba inadvertently gets. There is clearly an attempt to make a distinction between him and the rest of the civil society groups in the campaign. What is slightly disconcerting is the responsiveness of the government to his specific involvement, as if to show that he alone in the campaign merits special treatment. Some sections from a report:

Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman Sudhir Chandra, who had briefed Ramdev on the steps being taken by the government to unearth black money, said the yoga guru’s suggestions were “constructive” and constructive ideas “should be considered by the government”.

Asked about his meeting with the yoga guru, Chandra said: “I think Ramdevji was satisfied.”

Ramdev, however, refused to call off his fast. “My hunger strike will go ahead. There is no question of calling off the protest plan till my demands are met and till talks reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

2 comments:

Furree Katt said...

is Baba Ramdev such a big-gun that his hunger strike can influence government decisions? how did he get so powerful? and why does he get so much attention :O

Arjun Rajkhowa said...

Ha ha! I think he's got a huge fan-following, and that he thinks, in this case, that the PM shouldn't be covered by the bill, which is very convenient for the government. They also respond positively to all these pseudo-mystical characters, for no rational reason. None of the civil society activists on the drafting committee (those that are directly involved) think that the PM should be excluded. The government tries so hard to play these musical-chairs routines.