Anna Hazare has rebutted government’s arguments against including all government servants under the upcoming anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal. He also reaffirmed that the second round of agitations will begin on August 16.
He pointed out that unless all the officials of the Government are brought under the watchful gaze of the Lokpal, India cannot get rid of corruption. He rebutted Kapil Sibal’s argument that bringing officials under the Lokpal will lead to the officials not listening to their political masters.
“That is exactly what we want. There is a nexus between the politicians and the government servants. We want to break it. Because of this nexus, not a rupee reaches the villages,” Anna said in his first interaction since the talks broke down two days ago.
“Today, without paying bribes, you cannot get anything done in government offices.. So we want the entire structure, from the bottom to the top, to be under the scope of the Lokpal. Only when they are under the Lokpal and gets punishment can corruption come down,” he said.
Hazare also countered the government’s fear that a strong Lokpal will create a rival center of power and paralyze the government.
“The government cannot interfere in the Election Commission. Will you call it a parallel government? It cannot interfere in the Supreme Court, which has all the powers. Will it call a parallel government? Just as these institutions are given autonomy, Lokpal should also have autonomy… This is just an attempt to confuse the people,” he said.
He also said that an elaborate Lokpal, with officers in each district of India, would only cost 0.25% of Government’s revenues.
He also asked why the Government draft did not bring the CBI under the Lokpal. The Civil Society wants the investigative wing of the CVC and CBI merged with the Lokpal.
“How many ministers, how many IAS, IPS officers have gone to jail? Why is that? It is because the CBI is under the Government’s control,” he said.
He said he suspected that the Government’s attempt to confuse people was directed at dissuading people from participating in the second round of agitations starting on August 15. “But I am sure that even more people than participated in the first round will join us on August 15,” he said.
Fellow agitator Kiran Bedi said she wanted a system similar to the existing ‘Dial 100’ system for police assistance for assisting ordinary people who are demanded bribe from.
“Today, if you dial 100, a police van will come to you to seek your welfare… We want a similar system to work when someone asks you for a bribe.. The government’s draft has nothing for the ordinary people,” she said.
She pointed out that according to the draft given to them by the Government, the prosecution of a case of bribery will take months, if not longer.
According to the draft, she pointed out, that before lodging a case against the accused person, the Lokpal will have two inquiries, two reports and a hearing of everyone including anyone else whose reputation may be negatively affected by the case.
“Inquiry, report, hearing, inquiry, report, hearing.. When will the FIR be filed? Where does an accused get a hearing before a complaint, a charge-sheet is filed,” she wondered.
Arvind Kerjiwal, noted RTI activist and another of Anna’s compatriots, pointed out that the Government’s Lokpal would be primarily an NGO Lokpal, not targeted at Government officials.
“According to this, there would be around 15-20 lakh NGOs and only 65,000 central government employees under it. Is this bill targeted at combating corruption among NGOs or central government employees,” he asked.
Read both versions of the bill here: