Debate: Should Shanti Bhushan quit Lokpal panel?
Vicky Nanjappa and Sharat Pradhan ask a few intellectuals on the campaign against the Bhushans and what happens next.
Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, members of joint committee for drafting of the revised Lokpal bill, are under tremendous pressure to resign from the committee.
Some of the members of India Against Corruption are also of the view that due to the alleged land scandal in Noida where land was allotted at a cheap rate to Shanti Bhushan and his son Jayant Bhaushan, their presence in the committee is unethical.
However, the issue has too many angles and intellecutals are divided over it. Rediff.com asked few intellectuals if Shanti Bhushan should resign from the joint committee?
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Image: Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan
'Exercise by vested interests to delay the Lokpal bill'
U R Ananthmurthy is a distinguished thinker and writer in Kannada and the winner of Jnanpith Award and the Padma Bhushan. He told rediff.com, "The need of the hour is to root out corruption in all forms. The only way to root out corruption is through a social movement and it was necessary to undertake such an exercise since we cannot expect people in power to react to this."
"I feel pained when such allegations are made against the likes of Shanti Bhushan. Why should he step down? I do not believe these allegations and I firmly believe that this is nothing but a smear campaign undertaken by some vested interests. According to me this is an unnecessary exercise and it should be stopped at once. He is a highly-paid lawyer and I do not think he will do such things in the first place."
Ananthmurthy sees the hand of vested interests behind the campaign against the Bhushans.
"The way I see it, this is just another exercise on the part of vested interests to delay the introduction of such an important bill. We are all aware that this bill is important to fight corruption and there is no point in delaying it. I however have no doubt whether this bill would see the light of the day or not. I firmly believe that it will come through at the end of it despite all these obstacles that are being caused by some vested interests."
'What these so-called civil society representatives are doing is dangerous'
Jyotirmaya Sharma, professor of political science at the University of Hyderabad, has different views from Ananthmuthy. Both are in favour of Lokpal bill but Sharma disapproves of Anna Hazare's methods.
"I am sure the Lokpal bill will see the light of day through a regular constitutional political process rather than through the bullying tactics of a bunch of self-appointed, self-righteous, sanctimonious individuals. What these so-called civil society representatives are doing is dangerous. They certainly do not represent me."
"A Lokpal bill is desirable but this is not the way to get it. Selective middle-class impatience cannot be the basis for running the country. I am sure the government would do its best to delay the bill, but there must also be a wider public debate on the bill."
"I have no interest in individuals (Shanti Bhushan). (Regarding a smear campaign) It is both. It is a levelling of charges and they have to be proved or disproved. What the Bhushans ought to do is their business. After all, not too long ago they thought truth and God was on their side. Let them be guided by their sense of morality and ethics which they thought was higher and better than many other people."
'Why don't the ministers on the committee declare their assets?'
Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pande, who heads the National Alliance for People's Movement, sees no reason for Shanti Bhushan to step down from the committee.
"There is absolutely no reason why he should resign. Look at the credentials of those people who have taken it upon themselves to question his integrity. What credibility do people like Amar Singh have?
"Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant have been forthright in declaring all their assets before the public. Why have the official members of the draft committee which also includes Home Minister P Chidambaram, not bothered to declare their assets in the same manner? Once the assets of these ministers and their immediate family members is made public, then the people of the country will know who is right and who is wrong.
"Shanti Bhushan has made it loud and clear that he is ready to relinquish the Noida farmhouse land in case it was found that the allotment was any kind of special favour to him. He is also ready to pay any additional levy that the registration of his Allahabad property entails."