What is wrong with Anna Hazare? The crusader, who brought the nation together over the issue of Jan Lokpal Bill, has endorsed the government version of the Lokpal Bill, which is being called 'weak' and 'ineffective' by the Aam Aadmi Party, which was an off-shoot of the India Against Corruption spearheaded by Annaji himself. In all counts, this time it is Anna who seems to have betrayed the people of this country.
Aam Aadmi Party (or the Common Man's Party) was formally launched on 26 November, 2013, after Anna and Arvind Kejriwal were divided on whether to politicise the India Against Corruption movement which since 2011 has been demanding a strong Jan Lokpal Bill. Since then the rift between Anna and Kejriwal has only broadened, much to the delight of the national political parties - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party.
While this time Anna may have decided to back the government bill, it is Kejriwal who seems to be still fighting for bringing a 'strong' bill. What has prompted Anna to side with the government, even though several aspects of the Lokpal bill that ensured a free and fair Lokpal is missing in the government bill, is perplexing.
In a statement on his facebook page, Kejriwal said: "The Government's Lokpal bill has serious shortcomings which make it ineffective. For example, the Lokpal (the anti-corruption officer) will be selected by five members: by PM, Leader of Opposition, Speaker, Chief Justice of India, and one jurist,who is nomiated by the President based on the recommendation of the Prime and other members. Thus majority of those who will select Lokpal will be from the political class, who themselves will need to be investigated by the Lokpal. Is this Lokpal really independent? What will this Lokpal be able to achieve?"
If even the one of the most premier investigation agencies in the country - the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) - is not free of the political influence, then the fears raised by Kejriwal is only right. Then a Lokpal, who is directly appointed by the government, will only end-up being a stooge.
Going back to December 2012, crusader Anna, while carrying out his 'Anshan' or fight against corruption, had demanded a strong and effective Lokpal. It was some of the points mentioned below that Anna had vigourously demanded to contain in Lokpal:
* The 'whistleblower' or the person who reports corruption against any governmnet official must be protected
* The punishment must not be a mere two years jail term; it should longer and stricter
* The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be given independence
* The bill must have provision for a Citizen's Charter
These were the demands set by Anna in his India Against Corruption movement. The government's Lokpal Bill has some of the points that are exactly the opposite to what both Anna and lakhs of Indians across the country had demanded. The new bill:
* Guarantees no protection to the 'whistleblower'. And if is proved that the charges against him are false, the 'whistleblower' will get a prison term of five years.
* However, if an official is found guilty, then he gets a jail term of two years.
* The Central Bureau of Investigation is still under the direct control of government.
* The government now wants to bring a separate bill for Citizen's Charter but no time frame has been announced.
In short, the government has gone ahead and given nothing that brings justice to the people's demand for a strong Lokpal Bill. Instead, what they are getting is a 'rotten deal', and what is more surprising is how Anna has accepted the government's bill. After leading lakhs of Indians into a movement that left the entire nation amazed and refreshed, the rift between Team Anna and AAP is destroying the hope that Indians had come to identify with their Annaji.
While for political parties such as BJP and Congress, these are good times to bake their own pie but for Indians this is certainly turning into a sad chapter of betrayal and dashed hopes.
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