Doesn't Team Anna know when it's time to stop?
Anna Hazare and his team are now testing the limits of our endurance. It is the height of arrogance to believe that only they have all the answers.
Are you fed up of Anna Hazare and Team Anna? I am. Mental fatigue has set in because of two reasons. The first is media overkill. Newspapers, having limited space, at least exercise some restraint, but television, which has 24 hours to fill, just drones on and on, showing the self-appointed guardians of civil society enjoying their 15 weeks in the sun.
The second reason why many of us have had enough of the Lokpal Bill agitation is that Anna Hazare and his team don't know when to stop. The role of members of civil society is clearly defined: whatever it may be, it is not to legislate.
That is the role of the legislature, which is why it is called that. The role of civil society – which means people like us – is to act as catalysts and pressure groups which force politicians and parliament to act, and to bring in laws which will be for the general good.
As we know, the Lokpal Bill has been hanging around in parliamentary recesses for years and years. For obvious reasons, politicians of all political parties have tried to scuttle it, and done so successfully for a long time (That's why it is amusing to see the BJP take the moral high ground: why didn’t the NDA government bring in the bill in its two terms?)
In that scenario, someone had to take the initiative. When Anna Hazare and company did so, we all applauded. But having forced the government to act, they should have stopped and allowed parliament to fulfill its role of bringing in the new legislation.
Obviously, the form the new bill takes will not please everyone. No bill can. But the pulls and pressures of opposing political parties in parliament generally ensures that a reasonable compromise is reached.
Should the Prime Minister be under the Lokpal's preview? There are two valid, but opposing, views on that. Should the Chief Justice and Supreme Court judges be under the purview? Again there are two valid, but opposing, views. Now isn't it arrogance on the part of Hazare and Co that only their view is correct?
Anna Hazare's threat of a fast is nothing but blackmail. When Mahatma Gandhi went on his fasts, it was as a part of Satyagraha against an occupying imperial power. The situation changed in 1947; we became a democracy and have been a functional democracy for all this time. That is why a fast of the kind that is now being threatened is nothing short of coercion to get your own way.
As members of civil society we need to tell Anna Hazare that. We need to tell him too that the Bhushan duo isn't necessarily the best legal brains in the country even if they think so: the job of drafting the bill isn't their business anyway. We also need to convey as gently as possible that Anna Hazare himself is a good man, but a good man of limited vision and intellectual ability. This may sound harsh but you just have to listen to his speeches.
Ideally, neither the government, nor Team Hazare should have had a hand in the bill. What Team Hazare should have asked for is to pick a three-member team of the best independent legal experts of impeccable reputation to work on it and then present it to parliament. But then, Anna Hazare and his team wouldn’t be on television all the time, would they?
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