Congress noncommittal on Anna’s demand to include lower bureaucracy

Congress leader Sandip Dixit, son of Sheila Dixit, refused to support Anna Hazare’s demand to include the lower bureaucracy within the investigative powers of the Lokpal. He was the first speaker from the Congress party speaking on merits at the Parliamentary debate on Anna Hazare’s three demands today, inaugurated by Pranab Mukherjee.

While he supported the motive behind reducing corruption at lower levels, he said he was not sure whether bringing the lower bureaucracy (police, clerks, peons, registrars etc.) under the Lokpal was the right way to go forward.

He said his party was not ready with a final suggestion on this issue. In other words, no opinion was expressed about this demand — arguably the most important demand by the Anna group.

[UPDATE at 2 PM] There are reports that the Government is ready to give in on this aspect and a final announcement may be made in Parliament today itself by Pranab Mukherjee. [End of UPDATE]

On the issue of citizen’s charter too Sandip Dixit said you cannot equate non-performance of duty by a government official with an expectation of bribe. Anna is demanding that if a government official refuses to carry out his job without taking bribe, it will be considered “deemed corruption.” Dixit seemed to object to the link between bureaucratic delays and corruption drawn by Team Anna.

On the final issue of bringing in Lokayukta in each state though an enabling provision in the Lokpal bill, he said he supported the suggestion, though there were “two alternatives.”

He also said the Government is reconsidering whether or not to bring purely private bodies, such as NGOs which receive no money from the taxpayer or the government, within the ambit of Lokayukta — as it wanted to earlier.

Dixit was the first Congress leader to speak on the three demands of Anna — bringing all government officials under Lokpal, ensuring setting up of Lokayuktas at state-level and bringing a citizen’s charter to address people’s grievances about delays.

The main opposition, the BJP, has already supported all the three demands.

Hazare is expected to break his fast if the Parliament expresses support to all the three demands, the core part of his overall demands with regard to setting up a strong Lokpal.


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