B S Raghavan

Team Anna's myopic attitude

Updated on: Aug 02, 2011

Anna Hazare is in serious danger of losing all credibility and goodwill, and being taken to be a mere demagogue. Members of his team are doing everything possible to hasten the process. Anna himself is well-meaning, but in great need of advice in arriving at a sophisticated understanding of complicated public issues.

From the way he is castigating the Government's Lokpal Bill, it is obvious that his own imprudence is being fuelled by bad advice from his team.

The developments relating to the Bill and the reasoning by the Government require dispassionate and measured handling with political savvy and without blinkers. The self-righteous, holier-than-thou grandstanding of Anna Hazare and his cheerleaders are actually jeopardising the crusade against corruption.

Anyone following the series of public statements from Anna and his camp is bound to get the impression that going on an indefinite fast by fair means or foul, and for reasons good or bad, and turning the national spotlight on himself, has become his magnificent obsession, no matter if, in the process, the situation gets further complicated and the Bill itself becomes a casualty.

In short, Team Anna is doing a great disservice to the cause by its myopic refusal to look at the positive and practical features of the official Bill and make it a viable starting point.

It will always be possible to build on it in the light of the experience gained in working it.

DELICATE ISSUE

I give below succinctly the points round which Team Anna's demands are centred and the reasons why the Government's stand is eminently reasonable and tenable and not obstructive as is being made out:

Inclusion of the PM : In a parliamentary democracy, the person elected or accepted as its leader by the party (or coalition of parties) obtaining the majority in the Lower House is automatically called by the Head of State (Monarch or the Constitutional President) to form the Government.

In the absence of a clear-cut situation in the above respect, the Head of State may himself exercise his choice of the person to be appointed Prime Minister.

The powers enjoyed by the person appointed as Prime Minister are immense: He appoints and dismisses Ministers and decides on their portfolios. He can dissolve the Lower House and call for elections at will without assigning any reason. He can constitute or discontinue Groups and Committees of Ministers as and when he desires. He calls and chairs Cabinet meetings and approves their agenda and minutes. When he resigns, whether of his own volition or following defeat on a vote of confidence, the whole Cabinet resigns with him.

Thus, the PM is the pivot of the entire paraphernalia of government and any action initiated or taken against him by an extraneous agency in its discretion will bring the whole government under a cloud and severely disable him from exercising his leadership and control for an indeterminate period. The Government is right in proceeding with caution on this delicate issue.

QUIT VAINGLORIOUSNESS

Inclusion of Judiciary : Here again, Team Anna should watch the working of the proposed legislation to enforce judicial accountability and standards of judicial integrity, without insisting on its inclusion in the Government's version of the Lokpal Bill.

Inclusion of MPs who indulge in corruption in the discharge of their functions within both Houses : This is a very unreasonable demand which directly violates justifiable Constitutional provisions about acts of MPs within Parliament being outside the purview of any authority other than the Speaker or the Chairman.

Inclusion of officials down to the lowest level : This is the most preposterous demand of the Anna Team which does not seem to realise that the the Lokpal(s) will be simply crushed under the heavy burden of dealing with complaints against innumerable employees down to the block level, defeating the very purpose of decisively dealing with corruption at high places.

Team Anna should realistically ponder over the implications of its demands, instead of indulging in vain gloriousness and playing to the gallery.

Published on August 02, 2011

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