by Soumik Mukherjee Dec 17, 2013 10:52 IST
Arvind Kejriwal, it seems, getting increasingly lonely in his fight to get a stronger Lokpal than the one proposed by the UPA.
After Anna Hazare agreed to the government proposed Lokpal, more and more civil society activists are now welcoming the bill. Even though civil society members have been a part of the long fight for for a strong Lokpal bill, many of them now believe that although the government draft in the Rajya Sabha has a few loopholes, it is still as a whole, a good move by the government.
"We’ve met representatives of all political parties- Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Arun Jaitley, Narayansamy and we’ve had communication with Akhilesh Yadav. There is complete political consensus on these bills and therefore, there is no reason why these bills should not be taken up for passage in this session of Parliament. There is an urgent need for these bills," said Nikhil Dey of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI).
NCPRI which has played a key role in passing the Right to information Act, has been campaigning for the Lokpal bill simultaneously with the IAC movemeant led by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Even though Dey has welcomed the passage of the bill, he feels that it will be ineffective if proper measures are not taken. Other experts and civil society activists agree. They feel that that one shortcoming of the bill is that even though it directs individual states to appoint a Lokayukta within a year of passing the bill, it does not say the same for the center.
However one point where civil society activists feel that they must not concede is the issue of bringing the CBI under the purview of Lokpal. "To ensure the efficacy of the Lokpal it is critical that the Lokpal have administrative control over the CBI. The power to appoint, transfer, remove and write ACRs must also be with Lokpal for those CBI officers who are working on Lokpal referred cases," says Shekhar Singh, another civil society activist and a member of NCPRI.
Activist believe that a stand alone Lokpal Bill will only remain a half baked measure if the citizen's grievance redressal bill and the whistleblower's protection bill is not passed to ensure the safety of the common people who are trying to tackle corruption.
"In order to give a comprehensive accountability framework to empower the citizens of India, the simultaneous passage of the Lokpal Bill, the Grievance Redress Bill and the Whistle Blower Protection Bill is critical," says Anjali Bharadwaj, a civil society activist.
Even if most people are critical of the Lokpal bill in its current form, one thing being hailed by the activists that passage of the Lokpal bill, is definitely a moral victory for the long movement to pass the bill.
"There is nothing better one can expect from a government led by the Congress party, which is the most corrupt entity in this country. But at least the bill in its current form is better than nothing," says Vijay Pratap, conveyor of the national Loktantrik party, a socialist movement, that was a close supporter of Anna's Janlokpal movement during its IAC days.
Now that these old comrades are seeing the passage of the Lokpal bill as a moral victory, it might make Kejriwal's argument look shallow. But his solace remains in the fact that none of the crusaders who have been baying for a strong Lokpal are satisfied with the proposed bill.
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