Of Ombudsmen and Wo(men)

I think we need an ombudsman to overrule the ombudsman who will be overruled by everyone who knows what an ombudsman is not supposed to do.

Anna had a “wish list”. It just so happens that his wish is not his command. Why is his team's moral high horse better than anybody else's? There is nothing to celebrate about him, his movement, the Opposition, or the ruling party. After all this utter waste of time and effort, I think we deserve a couple of conspiracy theories.

  • Why did the BJP chicken out? Perhaps, the party had a tacit understanding with Team Anna that if there were not sufficient crowds – don’t bother about the traffic jams, in Mumbai cows, strays and fallen trees, all cause traffic snarls – then the BJP will not vote for the government’s Lokpal Bill even with amendments. This will give Anna reprieve from the fast, which he should have not undertaken for health and other reasons anyway. And it will give the anti-corruption movement something to do in the New Year.
  • Another important factor could be that this would take away the allegations of RSS links of Anna that they are so concerned about, and in effect the BJP might wish to distance itself from for a while to put on its moderate face in the make-up van.

Okay, let us get serious. I do not understand numbers, so will skip all that. There are some details here.

I'd like to address some points BJP's Sushma Swaraj made:

“It appears the government is placing this bill in a fit of rage”

It was pushed into this sewer and naturally came out smelling of turd.

“The federal structure of the Constitution is being violated”

And what was Anna’s movement about? The Constitution?

“Centre wants to make the Lokpal model optional for states, but the bill you have brought makes it mandatory”

True. The river flows from the seas. Same logic.

“18 states have Lokayuktas. Many of them have better bills than the ones you have brought. Like Uttarakhand. Your bill will override those. There are better ones like the bill that Karnataka passed long ago”

So, the Lokpal Bill was already there for 43 years. If that is not good enough, then it is all a matter of how you look at it. This is not a case of ‘uski kameez meri kameez se safeid kyon’. Incidentally, Mamata Bannerjee too is putting up a fight, so you cannot keep everyone happy all the time.

“Minority quota: Reservation in constitutional bodies is not allowed”

In principle, agree. But the ‘Jan’ Lokpal Bill was trying to over-ride the constitution. Besides, if we accept regional variety, then why not caste, class and religious ones? I mean, when you bribe someone with a khokha it is different from using ‘good offices’, hai na?

“Government is acting as if this bill is a nuisance and it just wants to get over with it”

True. Like fast-track justice for certain media-hyped crimes. If you set deadlines, pour out in the streets, have your demon Santas go around demanding support, then the government will play politics with even more vigour. It just has the advantage of being the driver.

“We wanted CBI to be freed from government control. But this bill does the opposite. All power lies with the government”

The Armed Forces are exempt and will be tried through regular and civilian channels. The CBI is an indepenedent agency. This is the time to prove it. The BJP can do what it wants when and if it comes to power.

“CBI’s prosecution and investigating wings need to be separated, with the latter handed over to Lokpal. This way, the government’s hold over the CBI ends”

Fantastic. Why not name it the Federal Bureaus of Investigation. We can have our own FBIs.

“Inquiry against PM comes with too many safeguards. Are you increasing transparency or checking it?”

The prime minister is not directly elected to the post by the people. It is the party that decides. So, in effect, there is no transparency to begin with. The role of the Opposition is to raise issues of crimes of commission and omission on the part of the PM. That is transparency enough. When he appoints people, shuffles portfolios, it is obvious what is going on. What more would we like to know? Heck, we even know that Mukesh Ambani has told him he will invest Rs. 70,000 crore in India. And we know that the PM has given the Home Minister a good report, the same Mr. Chidambaram who was fighting with Pranab Mukherkee who was fighting about who first passed the file for the 2G spectrum.

“Either you correct this bill or I say with folded hands, please take it back and send it again to the standing committee. Let there be a detailed discussion there and bring it back in three months”

No need to fold hands. This was expected. Why wait for three months? Ah, Anna Haxare does not like winters, I understand.

The real cherry on the cake was from the CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta:

“I support a Lokpal Bill but not this bill”

Yeah, I support Marx, but not Marxism.

- - -

The drama is not over. It will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha, then back to agitations. Meanwhile, here's my cheesy filmi line for the day: Thappad se darr nahin lagta Anna saab, bekar vaar se lagta hai....

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