What was the achievement?

Looking at the smiles, dances and the euphoria at the India Gate tonight, and in a few channels, one would wonder at the achievement. What was the achievement? Given the shape and style of Indian politics and the one-sidedness of the fight against corruption (corrupt having to decide how to control corruption), one would continue to wonder the ‘depth’ of the achievement.

Earlier principal demand of withdrawal of official Lokpal Bill did not happen and Jan lokpal bill was not introduced. The entire matter was referred to the Standing Committee. Standing committee would give a report, based on its deliberations. Government then can amend/introduce the same bill.

The whole hog of 12-day fast was not necessary to include three additional demands, which could have been added through the process of Standing Committee. Was this a consensus, after ‘hard’ negotiations? I am surprised at the achievement, and much more surprised at the celebrations.

I feel after such a built-up the outcome was a whimper. Either the Team Anna caved in, or something else was worked out. In a tight condition scenario, Team Anna might have got misled, or pressurized, which is understandable. But, the outcome is a huge disappointment.

Anna used a important and critical ‘weapon’, with huge public support. And, now the weapon’s ability to strike again has diminished. If this ‘minimum’ was to be achieved, it could have been done in various ways, without using the ‘fasting’ weapon.

Apparently, the fight has not ended. It has begun. Tomorrow, government can easily gloss over the report of the Standing Committee, as happens generally in other bills. With Abhishek Singhvi as the Chairman of the Standing Committee who has ‘fixed’ views on Janlokpal, it would be very tough to include practical suggestions and wording in the report, leave alone amendments to the Lokpal bill introduced by the government in the Parliament. The bottomline is that there may, or may not, be amendments to the government’s Lokpal Bill. Not to the Janlokpal bill. The life of Janlokpal bill is finished, in my opinion.

Despite a five member committee of civil society representatives, government’s Lokpal Bill did not include critical inputs of Janlokpal bill. It needs to be seen whether the Standing Committee, or opposition parties, or friendly Congress MPs would be able to transform the official Lokpal to Janlokpal. I have my doubts.

Media also reported a pact between Congress and BJP. Details of the pact were sketchy, or atleast I did not understand the finer details of the pact. Is the pact done to facilitate the withdrawal of Anna’s fast? Or, does it go beyond? What made the BJP to come to a pact, even while Congress was under pressure?

Answers to some of these questions, and many more, might emerge later. But yesterday I was disappointed. And, today, I can only wonder at the simplicity of our ‘educated classes’, who cannot analyse what they got. Political naivete and innocence seem to be the hallmarks of campaigns against corruption.


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