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Just let the Lokpal panel do its job

April 27, 2011 18:47 IST

We must keep our counsel and let the drafting committee do its best; keep faith in the civil society nominees till they prove otherwise, Mahesh Vijapurkar.

People who would normally gather at India Inc gatherings -- policy-making politicians, policy-adapting bureaucrats and policy-seeking bureaucrats are now getting together in the evenings in Tihar Jail for there is little else for them to do save sweat it out till their trials are over and punishments are handed down by the courts.

There are two concerns about this, however, though locked up for their role in some parts of the 2G spectrum and the Commonwealth Games scams. There not enough of them there, and fears persist if they too would go scot-free not because they are innocent but because the investigators like the Central Bureau of Investigation do not have any track record of  convictions.

The CBI's political masters appear to still call the shots as they always did, making it the graveyard of people's hopes. Look at the way, as media speculated and political analysts screamed, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's MP Kanhimozhi was charge-sheeted only after the elections to the Tamil Nadu assembly concluded as it did elsewhere in four other states.

The idea that it ought not be allowed to disturb political equations during an election process was of primacy than getting through the business of enforcing law. The big and the mighty, especially alliance partners, deserve consideration because that is the way politics is run in India. No doubt even Suresh Kalmadi's delayed detention hints of similar possibility. The Empire continues in its wayward ways.

Little wonder the feeling of underwhelming persists because politics gains precedence over everything and there are daily reminders that the fight against corruption which middle-class India is now keen on, is not going to be easily won.

Even the manner in which the high and mighty flocked to Puttaparthi to pay homage to Satya Sai Baba was rife with the possibility of politicians having commandeered either government aircraft for a personal visit or borrowed free of cost aircraft of business houses and the rich. That is how cronies are made. Nothing else can explain that huge numbers of the VVIPs there because hardly any significant number of flights is scheduled to that town on a daily basis.  Or the way aircraft landed and took off at Nagpur when Nitin Gadkari's son wed. Surely the Andhra government was hard put to provide the hospitality including transport to them at Puttaparthi, at tax payers' cost.

Corruption is made of even such things where these favours cannot be ignored when policies are to be tuned to the needs of vested interests. Caught in such a web they themselves weave, the country could hardly expect to come out of the morass.

If anything is at the root of it, it is the political class which has to be held responsible before we move to the bureaucracy. They, as a class, are the culprits because they foster and then others take their slices, the complying bureaucrats included.

The disease spread to such an extent that an antidote is going to be hard to find even after the Jan Lokpal for which consultations are now on within the bipartisan drafting committee. Bipartisan? Yes, indeed because it is a committee of people who are now posited against the ruling class, the two being two sides of a conflict -- one seeking honesty and probity and the other seeking perpetuation of venality with thin veneers to hide it.

The person at the vanguard of a class with the most to lose if corruption is even reduced, not eliminated, has been Divijay Singh, the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, and after Mani Shankar Aiyer has gotten quiet, emerged the motor-mouth of the Congress party. It was all very well for Sonia Gandhi to say that she did not approve of smear campaigns but that disapproval was trotted out much after he did much damage to the cause of drafting an anti-corruption bill.

He raised suspicions, he raised bogeys, and he drew red herrings, all in the hope of derailing the process. When that did not work, he joined the clamour raised by Mayawati that a Dalit ought to also find a place on the panel. And don't we realise that the high moral ground BJP has taken does not wash? They too figured in the Jain hawala case, didn't they?

Pray, don't we all know that the corruption is all pervasive and that it had no caste aspects to divide up the constituents into caste groups? Don't we all know that in the context in which the points were raised by Digvijay Singh was to point out that those who are in glass houses ought not to be throwing stones?

Here I would like to assert that if the Bushans are not above board as alleged, it does not matter. Neither of the two is the civil society's candidate for the post of Lokpal. They are there providing the legal skills to help draft a law and mind you, the sharpest minds are needed to tackle the potential mischief -- the other side has P Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee and Veerappa Moily who can make mincemeat of well-meaning Anna Hazare's who know what they want but don't know how the fine print works in law-making. And yes, we forgot the other motor-mouth: Kapil Sibal. The government side is not teeming with saints.

Therefore the arrests of the politicians, bureaucrats and the businessmen does not enthuse a hurrah yet because this is possibly not even the start of the cleaning up process. The manner in which even the most-monitored cases, the monitoring coming from the Supreme Court, are being investigated by Special Investigation Teams have not been generating confidence because of the sloth, the proclivity of to abuse and carelessness by the CBI.

Perhaps no other premier investigation agency across the globe has so much of superintendence by an apex court; a matter of shame for a country which hope to rule itself but finds itself ruled by another but home-grown tyrants. If the cases which see high profile cases remain only as charades for the media and a sop for the people, do not stand up, then the entire exercise loses its meaning, its purpose.

Therefore, it time to:

Keep one's counsel and let the drafting committee do its best; keep faith in the civil society nominees till they prove otherwise. Lawyers know their clients as well as they do the law and this applies to Bhushans as it would to Chidambaram.

Airbrush all the controversies raised by the politicians and not succumb to the impression that Digvijay Singhs etc have really captured the high moral ground.

Hold everyone who seeks a vote accountable for the rot in the system, especially when they come to your doorsteps seeking a vote, whether it is a gram panchayat or parliamentary elections.

Tell a constable or a clerk to go to hell if he asks for the chai pani -- what they ask is not that but what would buy several lunches at five star hotels, really -- but make sure that you are not on a weak wicket. Don't err in your ways and don't let someone else make a fool of you.

No one has given the official, either on his own behalf or his political boss's behalf the right to dip into you pocket. Only a crook can recognise another so be straight. Or else, you would have sinners sermonising you.

Mahesh Vijapurkar is a Thane-based commentator on public affairs.

Mahesh Vijapurkar