Indian politics: PM Modi and CM Kejriwal can save the Lokpal Bill!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
One wonders if the newly elected Delhi government of Kejriwal is getting ready for yet another political battle with central government led by BJP over two crucially important issues: one, Delhi’s full statehood and two, Lokpal Bill to check corruption. Both issues are simple and genuine and could therefore be solved without any friction because not just Delhiites but entire India stands to certainly benefit from these measures. This would also help people of India to make the nation, as far as possible, corruption free in due course.
Ruling BJP and PM Modi would do well remembering the recent past when the social activist Anna Hazare undertook a long struggle to in New Delhi to force the Indian government to pass the Lokpal Bill and try to contain corruption to start with before ending the menace form Indian society and system. The negative approach adopted by the Congress government resulted in not getting the bill passed by the parliamentarians who, instead of officiating as law makers in fact behaved like big thieves, just blocked the bill. They simply cannot do parliamentary business without taking bribes.
Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of AAP what won the Delhi polls hands down is eager to enlive the Lokpal bill and help the government to be fair and honest with people.
The AAP has already said that the new Jan Lokpal legislation will be tabled before the Delhi Assembly after the new government is sworn in. Despite it requiring ratification from the Central government ruled by Congress led UPA, the party says it is willing to weather any opposition to have it passed and isn’t going to make any changes to it. While the government has changed, the AAP still has to deal with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung who had raised objections to the bill the first time around.
Kejriwal has already met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Urban Development Minister Venkiah Naidu seeking full statehood for Delhi but there’s no indication that the central government intends to move on this demand. They listened to him with an open mind.
Jung, at the time, had advised the Speaker of the Assembly not to table the modified Lokpal Bill and had even refused to clear it, arguing that the Assembly did not have the legal jurisdiction to pass such a bill — as parts were in contravention with the Centre’s law. And after multiple showdowns over the past year, it’s not clear whether he’ll be willing to play ball this time round.
However, the AAP with a view to fulfilling the poll pledges, is keen about the law to check corruption at higher levels and is prepared to bypass Jung if needed, questioning the need for his approval. The party had bypassed him in 2013 as well. \”It makes no sense for the Bill to first go to the L-G, who will send it to home ministry and then it comes back to the Assembly for passage and finally it again goes to the Centre for notification. We’ll send our Bill first to the Assembly,\” Sisodia said in an interview to the Economic Times.
The law wants to allow the Lokpal to prosecute officials from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi Police and other civic bodies who come under the ambit of the central government. Without the central government’s consent, the legislation wouldn’t be cleared by the president even if the Assembly passes it multiple times. The Ministry of Home Affairs has already begun to punch holes in the legislation.
Ministry of Home Affairs says \”This is not possible as these authorities report to the Centre and the situation won’t change unless Delhi gets full statehood\”.
While the AAP government tries to push through the legislation, it is also planning to bring back the anti-corruption hotline for the national capital in which callers are guided on how to tackle their complaints related to corruption. There are reportedly 3,000 pending complaints that haven’t been acted on despite being forwarded by the party’s office to authorities in 2014.
The AAP government already has multiple points on which it could have skirmishes with the central government, but it is least likely to relent on the Lokpal Bill, the promise it has been holding out since 2013.
If the BJP government does not act positively on the Lokpal Bill, the AAP and its supporters may just have to brace for a long stand-off to stick to their political principle. They are duty-bound to implement their poll promises.
The crux of issue here is today the most MPs in both houses of Indian parliament are corrupt and do not want the anti-corruption moves to succeed.
The judiciary unfortunately does think it should step in to cleanse the corrupt political system, to save Indians.
Instead of promoting corrupt politicians the BJP government should be prudent to understand what Delhiites who voted for AAP want? PM Modi will lose nothing if the bill is allowed to see the light of the day soon. Both CM Kejriwal and PM Modi stand to gain as people of Delhi as well as entire India would welcome the Lokpal Bill.
Once India becomes corruption free, surely, the trickling effect of the phenomenon in other South Asian nations would also be phenomenal.
Will PM Modi rise to the occasion?