Friday, December 13, 2013

The Joke-pal and Lokpal Game


After the IAC movement was being crushed with the apathy of Indian Media and also by the delayed actions of the government which had managed to test the attention span of followers. It is evident that Arvind Kejriwal's phenomenal success with the Aam Admi Party has managed to take the center stage in today's political landscape.

When the India Against Corruption team had split up with one group taking a political path and the other team taking the apolitical path. It was said that their paths are different but their goals are same and they would be maintaining a healthy understanding with each other's activities.

Anna Hazare following his Gandhian principles had taken a stand that he will not be supporting any political party. However, his constant stand against the Aam Admi Party looks more like a strong support for both BJP and Congress. At Ralegan Siddhi, during his fast protest for the Jan Lokpal Bill he took a clear stand against the Aam Admi Party's leader Gopal Rai and in support of VK Singh a BJP Leader. Anna Hazare had mentioned that no political party will share his stage during the protest. VK Signh with his strong alliances with the Bhartiya Janta Party was not in the right place, which was proved with the words he used.

VK Singh clearly made an attempt to taunt and defame the motives of AAP, reacting to which Gopal Rai tried to correct him and tell him to stick to the topic. Below is a news coverage by Zee News. Though Gopal Rai had committed the mistake of interrupting an ongoing speech, VK Singh had made the mistake of starting the political drama in the first place. The apathy of Indian media still stands against Aam Admi Party (AAP) which is evident in the below video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4eZ4HD70Lk

It need not be said, the reaction of Anna Hazare to this incident was like a school teacher who would ask one out of two students misbehaving in the class to leave the class as a punishment.

I would like to highlight the Lokpal bill which the Lok Sabha is wishing to implement was coined as Joke-pal bill by Arvind Kejriwal, who was the main brain behind drafting the bill and the strategist of the IAC movement. Indian Media had been hiding this fact that the bill which Lok Sabha has passed and is under discussion in the Rajya Sabha is not the original bill which was being requested. Until today, when BJP has emerged to support a strong bill and not AAP. Refer the link below:

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/government-fast-tracks-lokpal-bill-tabled-in-rajya-sabha-458161?curl=1386941077

I had read this article yesterday when it was completely different. I would like to focus your attention to this point on the screen:


And soon BJP steals the stage in this agenda:

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/lokpal-bill-in-rajya-sabha-today-bjp-warns-government-against-dilution-457792?curl=1386941136

You can also notice similar lines in both the articles.

When Arvind Kejriwal had been shouting against it all the while. In the below 3 hours live coverage of the volunteers meet, we can listen to Arvind Kejriwal's un-cut speach from around 02:40:00, he clearly claims that the Government's Lokpal bill is a Joke-pal bill, which was not shown in many of the major News Channels in India.


(You can see the NDTV coverage of this speech and notice how they have shown what they felt important.
http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/video-story/300999)

Does this scenario not contradict with what VK Singh was trying to taunt on - Give priority to the bill and not party and individual motives. At this point, not focusing on who should take the center stage on the matter I would like to share the differences between the two bills.



According to the Government's Lokpal Bill Parliamentary members would appoint the Lokpal Team. According to Jan Lokpal Bill, the Lokpal would be appointed by an independent recruitment process similar to the Election Commission or Civil Societies.

Below are the differences listed (Taking reference from Wikipedia)

Issue
The Jan Lokpal Bill
Government's Lokpal Bill
PM can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.
PM can be investigated by Lokpal after she/he vacates office.
Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench.
Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill".
Conduct of MPs
Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.
Can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated.
Lower bureaucracy
All public servants would be included.
Only senior officers (Group A) will be covered.
Anti-Corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
The Anti-Corruption wing of the CBI will be merged into the Lokpal.
The Anti-Corruption wing of the CBI cannot be merged into the Lokpal.
Removal of Lokpal members and Chair
Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President.
Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI.
Removal of Lokpal staff and officers
Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.
Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior.
Lokayukta
Lokayukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place.
All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.
Whistleblower protection
Whistle-blowers are protected by Lokpal.
No protection granted to whistle-blowers by Lokpal.
Punishment for corruption
Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption.
Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current laws.
Investigatory powers
Lokpal can obtain wiretaps (to make a connection to a telegraph or telephone wire in order to obtain information secretly), issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders.
Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers.
False, frivolous and vexatious complaints
Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of Rs 100,000.
Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can give 2–5 years imprisonment and fines of Rs 25,000 to 200,000.
NGOs
NGOs not within the scope due to their role in exposing corruption.
NGOs are within the scope and can be investigated.

If you have a basic understanding of the Indian Political scenario you would agree more that in fact it is the joke-pal bill.

The BJP Leaders are negotiating on the various norms of the bill and would come to consensus soon. The differences in the two bills are being talked about as a count. So if we have 10 differences listed, we might settle in for 5 differences. In such a case, we would need to deal with the 50% joke in this bill. Also is anybody bothered on how the Lokpal will be appointed?

Kiran Bedi today nodded with the Bill the government has passed and she is happy with the discussions that took place in the Rajya Sabha. I don't know what will be finally decided, but I know one thing, people who would be signing affirmatively for the bill would make sure they are saving their asses at all times!

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