Cleansing the legislature

Ranabir Ray Choudhury | Updated on September 18, 2011 Published on September 07, 2011


The spectacular protest by Anna Hazare and his supporters on the introduction of the Lokpal Bill is done with — for the time being, at least — and life in the nation appears to have returned to normal once again. Admittedly, there has been a Parliamentary resolution indicating a “sense of the House” which has accorded importance to three specific points emphasised by the Hazare group, namely, a citizens' charter, an appropriate mechanism to bring the lower bureaucracy under the purview of the suggested Lokpal, and the setting up of Lokayuktas in the States. The proposed Bill will most probably not be rushed through Parliament, because such measures are far too complex for hurried treatment.

But this does not mean that Parliament should take its time in making up its mind on the proposed legislation. It should not do so, because the Hazare protest showed amply how deeply entrenched is the opposition to the policy drift on appropriate steps to tackle corruption. The Government would do well to learn its lesson from what happened, because power flows from the will of the people, and it is dangerous to play with that “will” once too often.

Just a little step

What is certainis that the Lokpal legislation will be enacted “soon”, which will be one step forward in combatting corruption. As has been reiterated by just nearly everyone, there must be a series of other similar measures, without which the Lokpal legislation will be reduced to a showpiece with no serious impact on the flow of corruption in national life.

Why can't politicians take the lead and, in the process, live up to the promise expected of them, by those who send them to the legislatures, including the Lok Sabha? When dealing with legislation, Parliament certainly represents the will of the people. But what is, perhaps, pushed into the background is that it is the will of people which gives Parliament its shape.

Screening candidates

To start with, why can't political parties take the lead in screening their candidates by separating the chaff from the wheat — even if the chaff does wield much more clout in garnering votes with the help of muscle power and other devious means?

Mr Hazare has mooted the right to reject and recall members already sent to legislatures. This is a good initiative which, fundamentally, draws attention to the need to get rid of legislators who have failed to deliver, after being elected. But there are serious problems of implementation involved. A much easier step to get healthier legislatures would be political parties banning people formally charged by the police for criminal acts. The idea requires a lot of fine-tuning, but this can be an exemplary contribution by the politicians themselves to the campaign against corruption.

The UPA Government is reportedly working on such an initiative; it should be got off the drawing board as quickly as possible.

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Published on September 07, 2011
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