As allegations against members of Mr. Anna Hazare’s movement mount, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, a prominent member, has hit back. He has accused the government of leaking information. He says that by all means if there is guilt involving any member, the government may take legal action. But he says that the corruption movement will not be weakened. The next movement, he said, “would be ten times bigger”. He is right. Regardless of whether the allegations are inspired by official leaks, are endorsed by members of the movement, or even by trustees of the NGOs to which the Team members belong, there is no denying that allegations have diverted public attention from the corruption movement. But Mr. Kejriwal should reflect. Has not the corruption movement diverted attention from the corruption that had gripped national attention before the movement began?
Readers should recall the national mood before Mr. Hazare commenced his fast at Jantar Mantar. They might consult newspaper files to refresh their memory. The court cases and the CBI revelations about the 2G Spectrum scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, the Adarsh Housing scam, the Hasan Ali money laundering scam, the black money in Swiss banks scam and other scams were rocking the nation as never before. Who talks about any of these scams now as these quietly sink into comparative oblivion? True, there is news about Ms. Kanimodhi, Mr. Raja, Mr. Yeddyurappa and Mr. Maran as they struggle with corruption allegations. Is it a coincidence that none of them belong to the Congress but are all members either of the opposition or alliance parties of the Congress?
The burning question about why Mr. Kalmadi followed the advice of a junior unauthorized employee of the Indian High Commission in London, Mr. Raju Sebastian, to award the Queen’s Baton Relay contract to the firm of AM Films in London is forgotten. The Shungloo Report indicting Mrs. Sheila Dixit is also forgotten. The government dragging its feet to obtain information about black money in Swiss banks is forgotten. The purpose of Hasan Ali rendezvous with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Mr. Ahmed Patel is forgotten. All this and much more are forgotten. What is most sad of all is the fact that even Team Hazare seems to have forgotten all these issues.
Team Hazare is focused only on the “corruption movement”. And what is that movement? It is related to the single point of instituting a Lokpal to end corruption. At the very least that would take months. Meanwhile corruption issues are drifting towards oblivion. The torpor related to fighting corruption seems to be infectious. Even the Supreme Court seems to be affected. The Court’s decision to appoint a Special Investigative Team monitored by it to probe black money abroad has been derailed by the government’s petition challenging it. The Court has allowed inordinate delay in giving its ruling on the petition.
Team Hazare members might also reflect that the nation has at present a Comptroller Auditor-General (CAG) entrusted with the responsibility to oversee government transactions and extract accountability wherever required. The nation has a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) entrusted with the responsibility to probe possible corruption if accountability is not satisfactorily forthcoming. The nation already has a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) entrusted with the responsibility of probing corruption cases in such situations. Despite all these, corruption has grown unabated. Should we not first determine why these institutions fail?
In what manner will the new office of Lokpal improve matters? Who will appoint the Lokpal? To whom will the Lokpal be accountable? Most decidedly neither the draft of the Lokpal Bill prepared by the government or by Team Hazare has credibly addressed these crucial questions. I believe we do have the answer. But it will serve no purpose repeating it. Let it suffice by pointing out that neither Team Hazare nor its detractors are focusing on corruption. They quarrel about a corruption movement. Team Hazare is dealing with a formidable adversary. One hopes it is not being taken for a ride.