Monday, January 31, 2011

Government negates Lokpal Bill: Citizens march to fight Corruption

Delhi acts against corruption
Abhinav Garg, TNN, Jan 31, 2011, 12.11am IST
NEW DELHI: The government of India and our "people's representatives" were put on notice on Sunday - either fundamentally reform the country's anti-corruption laws or perish.

Two former Union law ministers, India's first women IPS officer, a sitting information commissioner, a retired cabinet secretary, a current member of National Advisory Council (NAC) and leading social reformers joined thousands of citizens to give a powerful call to restructure India's anti-corruption laws so that they become effective.

Guided by Magsaysay Award winner and RTI pioneer Arvind Kejariwal, thousands converged at the Ramlila Grounds to exhibit symbolic defiance by tearing copies of the CVC Act, the Delhi Police Special Power's Act that governs CBI and the draft Lokpal bill proposed by the government. Kejariwal patiently explained to the crowd how the present laws flatter to deceive and therefore ought to be replaced.

A 'Vote Bank Against Corruption' movement was also launched that asks voters to blacklist a party or a candidate who doesn't work to implement the 'Jan Lokpal Bill', touted by the organizers as a better, more robust anti-graft law which will actually ensure that the punishment to the dishonest is swift, certain and severe.

'I pledge that I will not vote for the party which does not pass and support the Lokpal or Lokayukta Bill drafted by citizens, either in state or at the Centre,' is the oath that targets votebank politics established on caste, religious and regional lines.

Holding aloft banners and shouting slogans against rising levels of corruption in the country, thousands of people from all age groups poured into the grounds to demand an effective anti-graft law. Showing banners that proclaimed 'Corruption: Enough is enough' and 'Common people are raped in government offices', the protestors gathered at the Ramlila Maidan from where they later marched to Jantar Mantar to register their protest.

Former Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi, social activist Swami Agnivesh, noted lawyers Ram Jethmalani, Prashant Bhushan and his father Shanti Bhushan, IC Shailesh Gandhi, Medha Patkar, Prabhat Kumar and NAC member Harsh Mander were among the key participants in the rally, which coincided with Martyrs' Day, the death anniversary of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. Bedi joined veteran lawyer Jethmalani and others to exhort the crowd to chant to Mahatma's favourite song 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram', as each speaker underlined the need to exert outside pressure on the legislature to amend anti-graft laws.

The march was part of the 'India against Corruption' movement being build up by a few social organizations demanding passage of the Lokpal Bill in the budget session of Parliament with important amendments. Eminent lawyers and activists have teamed up to draft an anti-corruption legislation which seeks to create an independent, empowered, transparent and accountable anti-corruption agency called Lokpal; to which agencies like the CVC and CBI will be accountable, independent from governmental interference.

"The Lokpal bill prepared by the public is so effective that it will eradicate corruption in next two-three years. Political parties should support the passage of this bill as the Lokpal suggested by the government is only a showpiece," former law minister Shanti Bhushan said while addressing the rally. According to activists, the government wants to make Lokpal an advisory body, which will only recommend to the government to prosecute corrupt ministers and remain toothless.
Read more: Delhi acts against corruption - The Times of India

I attended the Anti-corruption rally on 30 Jan. Very powerful rally. Very eminent intellectuals of India were present.

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