Diggy on New Years Eve

Digvijaya Singh who is in Bangalore told reporters that he has wished Anna Hazare a very happy new year and also wishes him a long life.
On the Lokpal Bill, Singh said that the entire objective appeared very political. An attempt was being made to divert the attention from the Sangh Parivar and focus on corruption. I only questioned the political motive behind it.Anna Hazare is a very simple man but he has been driven into this by very smart people. Their whole objective was to defame the Congress. Singh further said that in the Parliament they did not have two thirds majority and the allies too were not with them on certain issues which led to the developments two nights ago.This movement according to me is not a mass movement. It is driven by the BJP and the RSS. All I can advise Anna is, for God sake get rid of all these people.
On Mayawati, Singh said that her decision to sack ministers needs to be questioned. Why were FIRs not filed against them. This is not a clean up drive but a use and throw policy. These ministers gave money to her and might have kept something for themselves. Rahulji has also pointed out that  earlier elephants used to eat grass but nowadays they eat money.

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Fatigue led to low crowd turn out

In the past two days the nation has its eyes focused on the Lokpal issue. Although the crowd turn out for the latest round of protest has not been on expected lines, some members of the Anna team feel that the issue of fighting corruption has not lost its sheen. However the general perception is that it is time to get out of Urban India and move to Rural India debating this subject.
Justice Santhosh Hegde, member of the drafting panel, Lokpal bill says for starters that anyone associated with this issue would be able to comment only once they understand what is going on in parliament. I am unable to understand this Lokpal Bill and its present position. In fact no one knows what the Parliament is doing. There are so many amendments, many accepted and many rejected. The present shape of the Lokpal Bill has no clarity what so ever, he says.
Regarding Anna Hazare and his protest, Justice Hegde feels that one must be appreciative of what he is doing. Many are critical of his stubbornness and feel that the Parliament must be given some time. He is struggling over there and let us support him instead of criticising him. Every issue has its pros and cons.
I was with him yesterday. Yes the crowd turn out has not been very impressive. However that does not mean that issue has died down. There was a lot of enthusiasm that people showed to the lead up to the protest, People came out in large numbers when the procession passed.
Well it is difficult to say as to why the crowd turn out has been lower when compared to the last time. It could well be fatigue in my opinion. I would not say that the low turn out is not something that can be ignored. When fighting such an issue it is extremely important that there is peoples’s participation. The cause if lost if people do not take part.
The crowd turn out however should act as a deterrent. What is more important is that we keep the issue alive. In my view Anna Hazare should keep travelling to different parts of the country. I guess the issue has to now be raised in the rural parts of the country. There is a need to create awareness in those areas and for this Anna needs to travel more often to the rural belts.
On the numerous petitions that have been filed in the courts against this protest, Justice Hegde says that there is no bar in discussing this subject in the open. Unlike a matter before court which is sub judice, there is no such bar in discussing the proceedings that are going on in Parliament. Well, the Parliament has protection under the guise of a privilege motion, but then again that cannot be applied over here. There are so many from the Parliament who speak about this issue in public and they have not been pulled up for privilege and hence that cannot be applicable to the public as well. I firmly believe that it is the people who create the Parliamentarians who are bigger than the Parliament.
Speaking about the Lokpal bill, Justice Hegde points out that it cannot go in for a judicial scrutiny, unless there is a Presidential accord for the same. Even if someone does manage to get an assent from the President, the court would never go into the amendments and additions into the bill. The court can only look into the factor of constitutionality of the bill and in case it is found to be unconstitutional the court can strike it down. However in the instant case it becomes clear that the judiciary will not interfere with the proceedings in parliament.

Anna fast not illegal: HC

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday rejected a petition challenging the fast undertaken by Anna Hazare in connection with the Lokpal Bill. A Division Bencgh comprising Justice Ram Mohan Reddy and Justice Venugopal Gowda stated that there is no violation in undertaking such a protest.

The Bench also stated that in case there was any violation then the petitioner was free to address the same with the local authorities.

Amarnath, appearing party in person before the Karnataka High Court stated in his petition that undertaking such a fast was unconstitutional as the Lokpal bill was already being debated in Parliament. The petitioner contended that the Parliament is supreme and in such an event it was not right on part of the Anna Hazare group to challenge the Parliament. When the Parliament is seized off a matter then no court or individual has the right to challenge the same, the petition further contended before the court.

The Court however did not see merit in the argument and contended that there was no violation in what was being undertaken. However it reserved the right of liberty to the petitioner to report to the local authorities in case there was any sort of violation during the protest/fast against the Lokpal Bill.

Lokpal should be a watchdog which should bite

Justice Santhosh Hegde who was part of the drafting committee of the Lokpal bill says his biggest complaint is that no independent probing agency has been provided for the Lokpal.

I was first told that in case the Lokpal gets a complaint he would first look into it and then the matter would be referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. This would mean that the Lokpal would have no say in the matter. If this is really the case then it would be a disgrace and I very strongly condemn it. It has always been the case that the CBI has been under the clutches of the ruling party. This would mean that we are back to square one and the government would continue to enjoy complete control over every corruption case.

However now I have been getting to hear that there are some changes to this part of the bill. I hear that the preliminary power to examine the complaint would rest with the Lokpal following which it would be handed over to the CBI for investigation. The interesting part is that once the CBI starts investigating the case, it would be supervised by the Lokpal. Now if this is a reality then it would be a very huge step forward. Not only will the Lokpal be a watch dog but it would also have the power to bite.

As an individual I welcome this move. I do agree that it is not possible to bring the entire CBI under the ambit of the Lokpal as it has many wings. However the above mentioned change or inclusion would be a big step forward.

As of now there is a great deal of confusion. It does appear at times the government is trying to move forward on the issue. You ask if Anna Hazare is being too adamant and not giving the government a chance to put forth the bill. I would like to point out that he has his views and at no point in time am I even suggesting that the government is acting as an angel here Everything is not as straight as it may seem.

Regarding the inclusion of the Prime Minister, I do welcome the move although it comes with certain restrictions. I do agree that the Lokpal cannot have the entire power to look into every move of his.

The biggest complaint that I have is the transferring of the Group C to the Central Vigilance Commission. Now I do not understand why this has been done considering the CVC has hardly any infrastructure. Ideally this should lie with the Lokpal. I personally feel that matters of corruption pertaining to Group C should be probed by the local police in the rank of a Superintendent of Police and a report then sent to the Lokpal. I feel this would make more sense rather than handing over this power to the CVC.

Alternate for CBI under Lokpal

When the Union Cabinet meets today to discuss the much spoken about Lokpal Bill, the big question before it would be the Central Bureau of Investigation. At the moment it appears that the Government would skirt this issue by quoting the famous Vineet Narain verdict of the Supreme Court of India which has set guidelines on altering the nature of the CBI and also its functions.

While the draft is expected to suggest that the Lokpal may have its own investigating wing, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Joginder Singh goes on to state it would be meaningless to include the CBI into the ambit of the Lokpal.

CBI has an anti corruption wing alright, but then it does have other functions too, Singh points out. There is no point in handing over the CBI to the Lokpal and segregating one of its wings (anti corruption) would only create more confusion. Apart from anti corruption, the CBI deals with cases pertaining to the Interpol and also other crime related issues. Hence it is one body and cannot be separated. In addition to this the CBI also does work assigned to it by state governments and hence putting any wing of it under the Lokpal would cause problems for the agency.

The alternate to this issue is to create a Lokpal Bureau of Investigation which would probe cases which are filed with the Lokpal. They may have difficulties at first and there would be the issue of expertise in such cases. In such an event they would always utilise the services of some of the CBI officials who have been handling such cases and also rope in some of the officers from the CBI’s anti corruption wing.

However setting up a separate investigating bureau of the Lokpal is no easy job. The staff strength is what matters a lot here and in my view they would need 1000 investigators and 300 prosecutors.

While this agency would do good for the nation, I do not think that the anti corruption wing of the CBI has to be shut down entirely. There are cases of murder which the CBI probes which are connected to corruption or have a money trail and in such an event an anti corruption wing of the CBI has to remain in existence.

The more important aspect is to have a proper segregation of the two units as it could always lead up to a rift which ultimately would not serve the purpose.

Regarding the talk that the CBI is always a government controlled body, Singh points out that the CBI ought to be given a constitutional status. Yes, under the government it does get controlled a great deal. However I do not think it should be an independent body as it could be fatal due to the super power that it would enjoy. A constitutional status on the lines of the Election Commission of India would be ideal.

There is a dire need to root out corruption in India and we need a strong and independent body. The CBI has to deal with very important cases and apart from creating a new wing under the Lokpal, the government should also think of strengthening the CBI. The CBI is short staffed and no one seems to care. Even if the new lokpal wing is created it would not reduce any burden of the CBI as it remains understaffed, the former CBI director also points out.

No idea if RSS backed Anna Hazare

Spiritual Guru, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar has been a central point in the entire Anna Hazare issue. After a prolonged battle with the Government of India there is some solution to this problem.
Shri Ravishankar in this chat with rediff.com says that the Jan Lokpal Bill is only a first aid kit. It can instill some fear in people. To eradicate corruption completely, we need a spiritual awakening in the society. Patriotism, love and a sense of belongingness can help rid the society of corruption.
He further goes on to state that the he never once thought that the people of India had taken over the Parliament as was being alleged in this issue. By listening to people’s demands, the power of Parliament does not get overridden. Parliament is there to bring the voice of the people. Unfortunately, nothing in our Government works without pressure. What is shocking and unfortunate now with the party politics is that the politicians listen only to the party high command and do not represent the voice of the people. When the Jan Lok Pal bill was sent to the Chief Ministers of various states, instead of seeking opinion from their MLA’s and the elected representatives in the districts, the Chief Ministers referred back saying “Whatever the High Command says, we agree”. This is not democracy; it is dictatorship under the guise of democracy.
I will not say that the Jan Lok Pal bill is 100% perfect. It may have certain flaws which only the experts can see and rectify. There is scope for modification. Someone who can make it better is always welcome. It is not who makes the bill but what is in the bill that matters. What matters is whether it helps the common man. Anything in the Jan Lok Pal bill which does not fit into the parliamentary system or appears to violate the fundamental rights of the people, will have to be corrected. But the basic principles of the Jan Lok Pal bill will have to be adopted by the Government.
Nearly 40 scams have been exposed in the last 5 years; this has shocked the people of this country. Their anger needed a vent. In the last few months, I have travelled to 14 States across India and I could sense this issue when people would ask me in public. Because, the people have been suffering a great deal due to corruption, all of us together started this agitation last November. We were looking for a senior person to spearhead it. At the same time, Anna Hazare was leading such an agitation in a district in Maharashtra. We then invited him to New Delhi. His response to our request was, “I don’t know. Nobody knows me in Delhi. But everybody knows me in my district and I will get support there”. So, we gave The Art of Living course to people in 15 centers and created volunteers and through them began this movement. We started this agitation in Jantar Mantar with the participation of Art of Living volunteers and singers. However I must also add that the as far as I know it was always a peoples’ movement and the talk that the RSS was backing it is unknown to me.
Anna Hazare is a man of firm resolve and he has only echoed the frustration of the people. A sense of urgency was created after waiting for 42 years for the bill to come.

‘Government is making a fool out of everyone’

Even as the nation watches the developments unfolding in New Delhi over the Jan Lokpal Bill, Justice Santhosh Hegde one of the members of the drafting panel says that he has no hope that something constructive would come out of this entire exercise.

I am sitting here in Bangalore and watching the proceedings everyday, but I no for a fact that nothing really will come out of this entire excericse. I just feel very sorry that the Government is making a fool out of everyone. My heart goes out to Anna Hazare and I am very unhappy with the manner in which they have been treating him.

What none of them get is that the government has been doing this ever since the drafting panel was set up. I have seen this drama play out each time and today nothing different is happening. They are giving Anna Hazare false promises and hence I cannot trust this government one bit.

Rahul Gandhi may have made the right comments today, but what will be the end result, I really do not know. Sometimes I think these are mere statements. However I feel that he needs more maturity in politics because when he says things like such protests are dangerous, then I would not agree with the same. What does he mean when he says that such protests are dangerous to democracy.Let me remind them that it is the Congress party which had started such protests in the first place.

I have constantly urged Anna Hazare to call off his fast. I have said yesterday too that a protest can go on, but I am not in favour of a fast. I have often been asked whether I am in the Anna Hazare team. Sometimes I feel that I am not in that team. I however support the cause and may be I feel that I am not part of the team because I am sitting in Bangalore while all the action is being played out in New Delhi.

United politicians dangerous to Anna cause

The entire nation may be behind Anna Hazare and his movement for the introduction of his version of the Jan Lokpal Bill. However while speaking to one of the members of the drafting committee-Justice Santhosh Hegde, one gets a grim picture of whatever is happening.

All these days there was this confidence that the fight was against the government which everyone feels was too adamant regarding this issue. However today is a different issue altogether. All the political parties have come to the conclusion that both the bills will be withdrawn and a new committee will be formed.

The biggest problem today is that all the political parties have become united and this is disastrous to the cause. The real issue is that the points raised by us should have been agreed to, but with these parties standing united today, the hope is slowly fading away.

None of us today believe that anything good will come out of this. This government is adamant and is famous of taking U-turns. There is no rift within our team and we have been stressing on the same point since the past several months. The entire team is behind Anna Hazare and the government also knows that we are united. The battle is becoming a frustrating one and the government has done so many flip flops. We saw some hope when the government agreed to the two points raised by us. We thought that the issue was coming to a close, but then the U turn happened. I find the situation to be grim today since it is not only the government which is being adamant, but all political parties have joined hands. They are united now and this is dangerous to this movement.

They speak about forming a new committee. We all know what this new committee is going to do. It will water down the entire exercise.

The Prime Minister’s statements on the inclusion of the PM are in good taste, but I feel it has come too late in the day.He should have issued this statement in April itself. However the point is that are these statements serious or are people trying to take credit for something? During the various deliberations we have had we have never got a clear picture about anything. Each one is making their own statement and this is leading to confusion.

The health of Anna Hazare continues to be a concern for all of us. I personally feel that we should keep a fast out of this protest. We do not want any loss of life in this movement. We have been urging him to withdraw his fast and just continue with the protest. The police will take him to hospital and there is not much anyone can do about it since the law is very clear that no one has the right to kill himself. It can be a fast, but not a fast until death since it falls under the ambit of suicide which is an offence as per the Indian law. The scenes may turn ugly if he forced, but on a personal note, I too feel he should end his fast and just continue with his protest. I have not contacted any of my colleagues as yet, but will surely convey that the fast has to be withdrawn since no life should be lost. We can continue to make our demands through a protest since the country is behind us today.

Anna not a dictator

Justice Santhosh Hegde has become a very popular face at the FreedomPark in Bangalore. He has been leading the protest since the past couple of days and has not budged from his place. Justice Hegde who retired as the Lokayukta of Karnataka after presenting the explosive mining report is back in action today at theFreedomParkin support of the Anna Hazare movement against corruption or for the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Justice Hegde who was pessimistic about the actions by the Government however adds that he has hope that the Government will bend since the kind of support this movement has been getting has really built up that hope. In this interview with rediff.com he says that it is sad to see that people are calling Anna Hazare a dictator. These are desperate attempts after the government has failed to take any sort of action.

Are you hopeful Justice Hegde that there will be a logical conclusion to this movement?

I get the feeling that the government will bend since no one expected that there would be such a huge response to the movement. We have been getting overwhelming support from across the nation and looking at the manner in which things are going I am very sure that the government will bend.

Anna Hazare has been acting like a dictator some say and he cannot impose the law on the government. What are your thoughts about that?

Whoever has said that is arrogant and a fool. Are we making the laws? We are suggesting because laws which are to be made affect the common man and all of us have a right to suggest. If you remember we had a long drawn deliberation process and the government had finally given us a watered down bill. The people are unhappy with it and hence we are making a demand. Anna Hazare is on the right path and his demands are valid and calling him a dictator is nothing but foolish.

The government says that such matters have to be discussed in Parliament and only then a bill passed. The accusation is that the rule of law cannot be imposed on Parliament.

We all understand what the process is. This is a democratically elected government by the people and if the people want to make suggestions then there is nothing wrong in it. Anna Hazare or any of us are not fighting any personal battle it is something that we want to do for the people. Also another thing I would want to add is why did the government not send out version of the bill to the standing committee in the parliament. Now who has violated procedure?

Do you think Anna Hazare has a personal agenda in all this?

What personal agenda? Can you point it out or for that matter can anyone point out what the personal agenda is. I can say confidently that this is just in public interest.

Lokpal: What the govt should do

The Government of India may have blinked in the Anna Hazare case and permitted him to go on fast, but will the real issue be solved with this latest decision is the lurking question.

Professor Dipankar Gupta, a fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum in New Delhi feels that the Government cannot take forever to come to a conclusion on this issue. Professor Gupta explains exactly what the government should do now to salvage the situation.

Letting Anna Hazare go ahead with the fast for now is only a temporary solution. Things may quieten down a bit for now, but if there is no decision on the main issue and that is the Jan Lokpal Bill then things are bound to flare up yet again in due course of time.

Firstly the government will need to take up the issue immediately in Parliament and then debate it. It needs to be resolved immediately and they should not take three weeks to settle the matter since the very purpose will be lost then.

According to me the government has acted in the most stupid manner in this issue. If you had asked me three weeks back about the Anna Hazare movement, I would have said that the road ahead was very tough for him and his supporters. Basically by remaining adamant and worse carrying out an arrest the government has behaved in the most stupid manner which has only made his battle easier. What the government ought to have done is give out signals the moment they knew that Anna Hazare would go on fast. Instead they chose to stay adamant and today they are facing the music for the same.

If you would ask me how the movement would be in the days to come, I would say that it is tough to predict the same. When one talks about social movements, at times one never understands the logic and this is no different and hence one would have to wait and watch.

With regard to the Bill, according to me it needs to be debated no doubt and action initiated in very quick time. However there are various issues within the bill which I am sure that even the BJP may not agree to. Although I am in favour of including the Prime Minister and the judiciary, I really do not think that is the crux of the entire issue. Corruption according to me should be dealt right from the bottom level and only once that is done will the real issue of corruption be resolved.