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Dec 8th, 2013 will go down in history as an important day, in the creation of a new Indian polity. The stupendous success bestowed upon Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by the citizens of Delhi, is an indicator of the times. The average citizenry has long been suffering quietly and apathy was the norm. The fasting session and the protests organized by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal has his trusted lieutenant, along with many others from India Against Corruption (IAC), provided an avenue for people’s anger to be vented out.
Arvind made the right move, just about the time when the fasts were getting one too many, and the government and the politicians as always found a way to break this gridlock. The “system”, by this i mean and include – the government, the politicians – ruling, opposition, and the other multitude, the news media – special the 24x7TV channels, and other chief sponsors of the corrupt – the talking heads that show up on TV to mouth words one way or the other – ensured that eventually it will sustain and overcome these minor pressures. The formation of the AAP was the next logical step. Everyone had just about challenged the crew of the then India Against Coruption, to stop what they were calling as unruly behavior of protests and join the political mainstream. It was a direct challenge, echoed by the current lot of corrupt politicians from both sides of the parliament, the biased but appearing to be objective media, many talking heads that love to hear their voice and a possibly parroted by many unsuspecting citizens.
IAC took this challenge heads on. I felt their decision to choose the path of electoral politics to attain their goals, was overdue and much needed. Their goals, were not different from mine, or just about any other citizen in the country – a corruption free and just India. Democracy exercised they way it was envisioned – rights where they belong, to the people. Elected politicians and government worked for the people and were fully answerable to the people. They encapsulated most of these into one singular objective for the moment; pass the Jan Lokpal Bill as created by them.
Politics is a messy swamp. It always was. Everyone wishes that it be cleaned up. No one willing to take the broom and hose to clean it up. AAP did just that. It captured the hearts and imagination of millions and now it had converted those into votes; into a mandate. I use the word mandate, only because 28 elected members in an assembly of 70, is not a small number. Their party, neigh i should still refer to it as a revolution and a movement showed that they can take on the whole class of politics as usual. So look at their win in the context of AAP vs the rest of the world and suddenly their win seems monumental.
This is just a first step. This blog post, was begun on the evening of the 8th. Today, as i write this, AAP is being forced to govern, with a fractured majority. The same set of people i mentioned earlier are all again speaking the same words; govern or get out. They are challenging the AAP, with the knowledge that AAP will become just another political party once they start governing. I disagree with this pressure. If the AAP had 35 seats, it makes sense. But today they are fighting against the rest of the world, and this can be tricky. But i am hopeful, if they do chose to do so, they will still come out on top. Wishing them the best. Hoping for the best.
Below is the speech, our mumbling Prime Minister, MMS, made in the Parliament two days after India’s 65th Independence Day. I have officially named him as ‘mumbler on the roof’, as an ode to Nero. So while average Indias are boiling in anger, our mumbler on the roof, chooses to make mumbling speeches and statements. I’ve already blogged about MMS fall from grace in this blog before. Just to reiterate, he is a good example of how someone can be very literate (purposely use this instead of educated), but yet incapable of leading. Leaders are made of different mettle.
So, again, here is the speech, and my comments (in italics, so you dont mistake that for MMS’s diatribe against himself) and take on this. Since this is text, i am spared the trouble of providing comic relief on the monotone of the speech.
It is my painful duty to report to this House certain events that took place yesterday in New Delhi. Hon’ble Members are aware that after extensive consultations and discussions, including deliberations in a Joint Drafting Committee and a meeting of all political parties represented in Parliament, the Government has introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha on the setting up of Lok Pal. The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee concerned.
Certain events ? Events, dear sir, were earth shattering. Something Free India hasnt seen, atleast at a national level, with possibly some exceptions during the period of emergency. Also your reference to inclusions of ‘all’ political parties in your consultations are suspect, at best.
Notwithstanding the introduction of the Bill, Shri Anna Hazare and his supporters have persisted with their demand that the Jan Lok Pal Bill drafted by Shri Anna Hazare should be introduced in Parliament and that the Jan Lok Pal Bill should be the Bill that must be passed by Parliament. In support of this demand, Shri Anna Hazare had announced some time ago that he would undertake an indefinite fast beginning August 16, 2011.
In April, when you conceded to meeting with Anna Hazare and team, your party and government were clearly aware that the govt version of the bill was not going to cut muster. Yet your party and ministers stage performed a script to attempt to listen to external voice of reason. You and your party were very clear, that while a bill will be introduced to the Parliament, you will introduce one that will be meaningless to start with.
On August 2, 2011, an application was made to Delhi Police by an organisation called India Against Corruption for permission to hold a month-long fast beginning August 16, 2011 at New Delhi. Delhi Police held discussions with the applicants in order to identify a suitable place and to formulate the conditions under which the permission could be granted for holding a fast at that place. Eventually, on August 13, 2011, Delhi Police informed the applicants that permission would be granted for the protest at Jai Prakash Narayan Park, near Ferozshah Kotla, subject to permission being granted by the land owning agency and subject to certain conditions.
Delhi Police also informed the applicants that they would have to give an undertaking to abide by the conditions.
However, on August 15, 2011, the organisers refused to accept six of the conditions, including the condition that the protest fast would be limited to three days. Hence, Delhi Police informed the applicants that, since they had declined to accept some of the conditions and refused to give the undertaking to abide by all the conditions, permission would not be granted to hold the protest fast at Jai Prakash Narayan Park. Prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC were also imposed on August 15, 2011 in and around Jai Prakash Narayan Park and some other areas.
A good narrative. You have stated most if not all of what is common knowledge. But sir, we all know, how this process works in India. We all know how much power you (politicians) bestow our poor police force. It is unlikely that any of these decisions were carried out by the Police Dept, without the involvement of trusted accomplices from your party. But given that you will blame me for speculating, and nothing can be proven, we will agree to disagree, leave it to common wisdom.
On the evening of August 15, 2011, Shri Anna Hazare, through public statements, made it clear that he and his supporters would converge at Jai Prakash Narayan Park and defy the prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC. Yesterday morning, Delhi Police reviewed the situation. Delhi Police came to the conclusion that it was clear that Shri Anna Hazare and his supporters would commit a cognizable offence and there was a likelihood of a breach of peace. Hence, Shri Anna Hazare and six others were arrested, as a preventive measure, under section 151/107 CrPC. They were taken to the Delhi Police Officers’ Mess at Alipur Road and, subsequently, produced before a Magistrate. Delhi Police did not seek the police remand of the arrested persons. The Magistrate offered to release the arrested persons on their personal bonds subject to the condition that they would undertake not to violate the prohibitory orders. However, Shri Anna Hazare and others refused to give such an undertaking or furnish personal bonds. Hence, the Magistrate remanded the arrested persons to 7 days’ judicial custody.
So by this fact, would you be willing to turn in Rahul Gandhi to the UP Police, in the event Mayawati makes the same case. She knows fully well that Rahul Gandhi will appear again in areas where she is going to declare 144 CrPC. All politicians, now including you, are masters at double speak, and are fully aware that you will conjure up scenarios that are purely favourable to you, in every instance. Interestingly there is no evidence till date, that Anna Hazare’s protest would have disturbed the peace.
Oops, i’m sorry. It has disturbed your peace and that of your goverment and party. So that must mean something.
Meanwhile, during the course of yesterday, about 2,603 persons were detained in Delhi when they were proceeding to or were in areas where prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPC were in force. All of them were released later in the evening yesterday.
Late yesterday evening, Delhi Police received information that Shri Anna Hazare intended to move the Supreme Court challenging the orders of Delhi Police. Delhi Police also received information that the petition was likely to be mentioned before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, i.e. today, for urgent hearing. Since there were reasonable grounds to believe that Shri Anna Hazare had opted to seek legal remedies, Delhi Police did not apprehend any imminent breach of peace or imminent disturbance to tranquillity if the arrested persons were released. Hence, Delhi Police moved the Magistrate concerned to review his earlier order and the Magistrate was pleased to release Shri Anna Hazare and the other arrested persons at about 7 p.m. yesterday. The jail authorities informed Shri Anna Hazare and others that orders for their release had been received. However, Shri Anna Hazare and others (except one) declined to leave the jail premises unless the Government gave an undertaking that they would be permitted to hold their protest fast at Jai prakash Narayan Park without any condition.
About face !! Seeing the response of ordinary citizens across the country, i can truly say, your peace was surely disturbed.
Our Government acknowledges the right of citizens to hold peaceful protests. In fact, Delhi Police have allowed several such protests, but in each case appropriate conditions have always been imposed and the organisers were always required to give an undertaking to abide by all the conditions. Shri Anna Hazare and his supporters would have been allowed to hold their protest fast if they had accepted the conditions under which the permission was granted and had undertaken to abide by the conditions. Since they declined to do so, Delhi Police was obliged to refuse permission to hold the protest fast.
This is a political chess game. You and your government and the party have been clearly check-mated. Anna Hazare and team, have clearly identified the weakness, and will fully leverage this. The sad thing is, you still believe you have the upper hand.
Sir, please look out of your window, see the people. They are not paid hands or other party hopefuls who show up at your speeches and rallies. They are ordinary people who are giving up a day’s worth of wages or salary and joining cause with a man, who they think will lead them to a better tomorrow. Trust me, Economic Times, Dow Jones and Sensex alone, do not make up this India.
The Government wishes to stress that the issue before the nation is not whether a Lok Pal Bill is necessary or desirable. All of us in this House are agreed that a Lok Pal Bill must be passed as early as possible. The question is, who drafts the law and who makes the law? I submit that the time-honoured practice is that the Executive drafts a Bill and places it before Parliament and that Parliament debates and adopts the Bill with amendments if necessary. In the process of adoption of the Bill, there will be opportunities for Shri Anna Hazare and others to present their views to the Standing Committee to which this Bill has been referred by the Hon’ble Speaker. The Standing Committee as well as Parliament can modify the Bill if they so desire. However, I am not aware of any constitutional philosophy or principle that allows any one to question the sole prerogative of Parliament to make a law. In making a law on Lok Pal, the Government has faithfully adhered to the well-settled principles. As far as I am able to gather, Shri Anna Hazare questions these principles and claims a right to impose his Jan Lok Pal Bill upon Parliament.
Traditions do not constitute law. And also, the time honored tradition you so lovingly speak about is fraught with the same corruption. I assume you used these same traditions to allow Maran, Raja, Kalmadi and the many others to run rout in the government. Just like how you ask Anna Hazare to seek a judicial remedy to a breach of law, why dont you also seek the same remedy for a breach of tradition. The farce enacted by your party and government, in seeking views and then ignoring them completely stands naked, in full public glare.
To sum it up, it was neither your principle to do something good through a Lok Pal bill, nor in your tradition, to do something honest by incorporating valid views.
I acknowledge that Shri Anna Hazare may be inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a strong and effective Lok Pal. However, the path that he has chosen to impose his draft of a Bill upon Parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our Parliamentary democracy.
You and your party constitute more danger to our democracy and Parliament than anything else. Your party, and coalition partners, the opposition members, all of you, have been elected to safeguard it, but in your time honored tradition, as you say, are raping it every day.
Our Government does not seek any confrontation with any section of the society. But when some sections of society deliberately challenge the authority of the Government and the prerogative of Parliament, it is the bounden duty of the Government to maintain peace and tranquillity. Delhi Police, as the authority charged with the responsibility, took the minimum steps necessary to maintain peace and tranquillity in the capital city. Inevitably, though unfortunately, it led to the arrest and subsequent release of Shri Anna Hazare and some of his supporters. I sincerely hope that the incidents of yesterday will not be repeated today or in the future.
Proven false. The about face was clearly showcased on national TV. Thanks to you, the following for Anna swelled into thousands and lacs.
I should also make it clear that the issue between the Government and Shri Anna Hazare is not one of different attitudes to fighting corruption. In my independence day address, I spoke at length about the need to deal effectively with corruption. I would like to assure the House that we are determined to provide a Government that is transparent, accountable and responsive at all times and determined to fight corruption. But as I said on 15 August at the Red Fort, there is no magic wand by which, in one stroke, we will get rid of menace the of corruption. We have to work simultaneously on several fronts. In my 15 August address, I have outlined some of the measures we intend to put in place to strengthen our fight against corruption. I invite all sections of this House to join hands with us to deal with the cancer of corruption.
True. You did speak at length. You also moaned that you didnt have a magic wand. Well sir, please fly to Britian, you may be able to meet Harry Porter and or visit his school, and acquire a wand for yourself. Or simply, steadfastedly implement laws of the land. Your government is yet to chase the black money trail. What are you waiting for – an order from the Supreme Court ?
Humor me for a moment. Do you believe for a moment that ‘all sections of this House’, including you and your party are even sincere about this? Because, you all seem more sincere and concerted when it comes to fighting Anna Hazare and the team, and waiting for ‘magic wands’ when you have to fight corruption.
With respect to the events of yesterday, I will only say that a functional democracy must allow multiple voices to be heard. But differences of opinion must be resolved thorough dialogue and consensus. Those who believe that their voice and their voice alone represents the will of 1.2 billion people should reflect deeply on that position. They must allow the elected representatives of the people in Parliament to do the job that they were elected for.
Sir ! Please think before you speak. Because, if not, hot air may come out from different parts of your body. Do you really think the elected representatives are fulfilling their duties honestly and diligently.
India is an emerging economy. We are now emerging as one of the important players on the world stage. There are many forces that would not like to see India realize its true place in the Comity of Nations. We must not play into their hands. We must not create an environment in which our economic progress is hijacked by internal dissension. We must keep our mind focused on the need to push ahead with economic progress for the upliftment of the ‘aam aadmi’.
You really are using the word ‘aam’ very lightly. Maybe, like they said in a movie not long ago, you too think we are all just ‘mangoes’. Sir we may be mango-people, but we can surely pack a punch, when and if required.
You may have heard this before too – you cant fool all the people all the time. Did you have similar sense and thoughts when you decided to fool the nation, by trying to slam a flawed Nuclear Regulatory Bill, through the Parliament, as desired by a few friends in the ‘Comity of Nations’ ?.
I appeal to all sections of this august House to ensure that the Government and its processes, and the Parliament and its processes function smoothly and effectively. There is no substitute for that. If some people do not agree with our policy, there will be a time when they will have an opportunity to present their points of view to the people of India.
Rightly said. Unfortunately some of us, believe we cant wait that long. Many people are sincerely hoping the Election Commission conducts an election today or tomorrow.
I request all political parties to ensure that Parliament functions smoothly. There are very important legislative measures that are required to be passed. If we do not pass them, we will do great injustice to the people of India and in turn hurt the ‘aam aadmi’. We are willing to debate every issue in Parliament, and we have demonstrated that we are co-operating with the Opposition in every possible way to ensure that Parliament functions smoothly.
Very thoughtful and considerate words. If only the deeds of your party and government mirrored these. And additionally, if only you paid more attention to the job at hand, than trying to singularly push economic reform. Sir, economic reform is no magic wand either.
We as elected representatives of our people should do nothing to weaken our people’s faith in the capacity of our democracy, our institutions and our social ideals and values to overcome all difficulties. We should have faith that we can build a promising future for ourselves. Let us unite in that faith.
Thank you. Finally you are done. I was wondering if i had to endure more of this mumbling. I do hope you use this opportunity to reflect on your role in this government, and more importantly the legacy you are leaving behind. Today you are possibly the most tainted man, simply because of your refusal to act. Your legacy should have mirrored your education and experience prior to joining politics. Think sir, time is still on your side. You can still correct and clean up this mess. You will be able to earn your respect back.