The most impassioned speech in the Lokpal debate in the Lok Sabha today was made by the young parliamentarian from the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Jayant Chaudhary.
Chaudhary, the grandson of former Prime Minister Charan Singh and the son of Ajit Singh, was the only parliamentarian to go against the general trend of criticising Anna Hazare movement and ascertaining the “supremacy” of the Parliament.
“I am young, I am motivated. But I ask myself, can I really sit for 11 days on fast for any issue? He is fighting for us,” he said in an emotional speech.
Instead, he urged his Lok Sabha compatriots to open their eyes and see what the people want.
“It is not enough to talk about supremacy. Merely asserting our supremacy here does not nullify the rights of the ordinary people,” he said. “I welcome this campaign, our goodwill is with you. We are ready to extend support in the voting process (to Anna) also,” he added.
He launched a scathing attack on the Government (of which RLD is not a part.) He mocked the government for claiming that only the Parliament has the right to frame laws and ‘external actors’ should not intefere.
He pointed out that the Congress government routinely accepts legal drafts from the National Advisory Council (NAC) — an advisory body comprised of social workers and headed by Sonia Gandhi.
“Some say it is a bad precedent. You already have an NAC, you have civil society there. Let us accept that a new space has been created.
“You have accepted 70-80% of the recommendations of the NAC, whether it is the food security bill, the communal violence bill.. If you can accept that, why don’t you accept the request of someone standing out there,” he asked.
He pointed out that the “foundation” of the Government’s bill was flawed from the beginning and it should be withdrawn.
He attacked the various excuses given by the Government for not including all the officers within the purview of the Lokpal.
“On the one hand, you are saying let lakhs of NGOs be under it. On the other hand, you are saying that we can’t bring lakhs of government employees under it because it will burden the Lokpal. There is no consistency in our argument,” he said.
He also supported the inclusion of Lokayukta structure within the Lokpal bill in the form of an “enabling provision” or a “model act” as suggested by some of the leaders such as Sushma Swaraj of the BJP.
Chaudhary’s speech was a departure from an afternoon filled with chest-thumping by MPs outraged by the “challenge” thrown by the street protests to what they see as their sole right over making laws.
MPs from both the ruling and opposition sides attacked Anna Hazare and his followers for trying to take the role of the legislature by thrusting a draft and putting conditions before the MPs.
Soon after, a similar speech was made by Harsimrat Kaur of Shiromani Akali Dal who warned that her fellow MPs were losing their touch with their electorate.
She urged the MPs to listen to those who had sent them there and get out of the misconception that they were superior to those who elected them and they were not responsible to anyone.
She pointed out that the consistent stalling, spreading of misconceptions and misinformation has “alienated the poeple even more and made them more adamant that their demands are met.
“Just because we have reached here, it does not make us smarter.. If the millions who elected us are making a demand, why should we not raise those demands and do our parliamentary duty,” she said.
She said the wishy-washy behavior of the Government has raised doubts about whether the Parliament intended to fight corruption.
“The law that we legislate is going to be our final chance to redeem their trust in us,” she warned, lending her support to Anna Hazare.