Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Murder at midnight


Many people are under the illusion that the story of Lokpal has ended at midnight last Friday. No, it all began forty years ago and could go on and on till infinity. Each time the ass called the public could push and pull the horse to water – but nobody in the world could make the damn creature drink it. Poor Anna was refusing to drink water till the horse took its first sip; even he got enlightened on the drift of things. The Gandhian was set to launch a fast unto death accusing the draft bill to be weak. Only later did it occur to him that his own health is weaker than the bill and bravely retreated from the battle.

Yet, we shouldn't dismiss the whole Lokpal farce as totally useless – the Guinness guys might have taken note of it. No other country in the world has pushed papers to enact a law for such a long time. In 1969, first time the bill was introduced, Loksabha was dismissed before the upper house could vote on it. This tragedy repeated many times. This time too, nobody bothered to consult political astrologers for finding an auspicious day. It is no small wonder that curtains fell only on the bill and not on Loksabha itself.

People do not understand the dilemma of our national leaders. They have to pretend before the public that they are out to save the country from corruption and at the same time make sure that the bill won't become a law in their lifetime. Many of them are displaying brilliant acting talent in doing this job. It is not histrionics alone; you have to make sure that the bill doesn't become a law even by mistake! To do this they utter words like standing committee, select committee, federal principle, constitution, minority representation etc., and perform walk-outs, sit ins and other rituals. They have been successfully doing this with the women's reservation bill for the last couple of decades. If the women's bill becomes a law a few members would lose their seats, no one is going to end up in jail. But if Lokpal becomes a reality they would not only lose their seats but would land in prisons as well.

Lalooji has spent time in prison for corruption without the help of Lokpal, but even while in jail he was staunchly against corruption. But his problem is that he might inadvertently utter some truths while acting brilliantly. He said, 'If this bill becomes law most MPs wouldn't have time to go out of jail. You would have to hold the parliament sessions in Tihar jail!' You don't even have to indulge in corruption yourself. Why, corruption by an official implementing an MP's constituency development fund could send the MP behind bars. Many leaders wanted to say the same thing, but they didn't have the balls of Laloo.
The Lokpal bill experience exhibited the latent leadership skills of our budding hope Rahulji. He received a standing ovation for suggesting constitutional status for Lokpal. But when that part of the bill was tabled in the house for voting many Congressmen were found missing. Over a dozen among them belonged to Rahul brigade in the party. They were attending a marriage in Gujarat. How can you blame them when marriages more sacred than constitutional amendments are scheduled on the same day? They attended the marriage violating the party whip. It is heard that the party has asked for explanations from them. It is not show-cause notices that these people deserve, some said- they should be given medals of bravery for disobeying Rahulji's diktats.

Present the bill in the house, and then send it select committee or some other committee and wait – by this time the tenure of the house would be over. Then you can forget the whole thing for a decade, which was the practice we followed for the last four decades. Manmohanji and Pranabji had decided to do something different this time. You shouldn't forget how our great leaders debated over the future of the nation in the freezing December night of Delhi. What a high drama! 187 amendments were suggested for the bill. No one wanted any of those amendments to be approved. There was only one unanimous demand – the bill should not become law. Events reached pushing and shoving stage. Finally somebody tore up the whole bill document and said good night. Happy New Year!

Somehow or other they killed the bill. The murder was committed by an all party alliance. Everybody was pretending to save the bill while garroting it. So, there are no witnesses, and no culprits. Ruling front can accuse the opposition and the opposition can accuse the ruling front.

State elections are around the corner, so nobody would be left with a dearth of ammunition.