Cool Bhushan, Hot Air

Now is the time to test the efficacy of the Lokpal Bill. The iron is hot, even if it is being re-heated by political interests.

A fresh controversy involving anti-corruption campaigner Shanti Bhushan broke out today over allotment of priced farmhouse plots to him and his son Jayant in nearby Noida and demands have cropped for the lawyer's resignation from the joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill.

The controversy arose after reports were published today that the Bhushans has been allotted 10,000 sq metre plots valued at Rs 3.5 crore each to them by the UP government in 2009.

There are no victims here. But is has become a tussle of egos and they are all using diversionary tactics. Shanti Bhushan says:

"Public applications were invited...It is clear that it is part of a campaign by some corrupt important politicians that if I remain on the joint committee, it will not be possible for them to draft a soft law.

"(If I am there) they will be compelled to draft a really tough law against corruption. Probably those politicians are feeling jittery. The real intention seems to be to derail the process (of drafting the Lokpal Bill)."

This is now about individuals. It always was, but it is becoming more visible. Name the corrupt politicians. This is about corruption, so face it head-on. Does Mr. Bhushan believe he is the only hard-nosed person around? Does anyone for a moment believe that some such draft is going to put an end to swapping of favours? Isn’t there a conflict between his legal persona and his civil rights activist one? Did his son not appear on behalf of the UP government in the statues-installation case in a Noida park? This was not a human rights issue.

It is a known fact that prime properties are sold for a pittance to favoured people. Isn't the anti-graft bill about honesty. The Bhushans must be ready for this trial. And so must Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav with whom there were telephonic conversations in a CD that has appeared.

Instead of using this as an opportunity to discuss bribe givers and bribe takers, people are claiming it is doctored, which it well might be. Swami Agnivesh is really pushing it when he talks about the timing of the CD’s release. Anna Hazare’s fast and the anti-corruption movement were also timed with the recent scams, never mind that many operators were not included in their radar.

The insouciance with which both the Lokpal panel members as well as the politicians are flashing it reveals that no one is afraid about corruption at all. It is being used like any other trend and will have a short shelf life. If there is any doubt, then it is the business of the clean upholders of a civil movement to prove their innocence and not try and get out of it. Was this not being lauded as the great revolution with celebrity support? Well, then, if the CD is fake and the papers regarding the property are in place, then the people defaming the Bhushans can be tried in court. The revolutionaries are there, aren’t they?

And stop the puerile debate about who should sit on the panel to draft the Bill. We have a Constitution that is constantly tampered with, so what’s a Bill? Whether Shanti Bhushan is part of it or not, he does not hold proprietary rights over it and neither is it necessary to beat him up. We have too many martyrs on the make as it is.

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Precious quote from Anna Hazare who is backing Shanti Bhushan:

"How can I give a guarantee about any person. I got to know him only because of this committee. I can give guarantee only about myself."

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