WHEN the government agreed to bring the Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill during the August 24 meeting with Team Anna there was an absolute sense of disbelief across the country. Arvind Kejriwal, one of the core members of the civil society team which started negotiations with the government on August 24, said that during the discussions there was no mention of the Prime Minister’s inclusion in the new law. There was a presumption that the government did not find the PM’s inclusion in the Bill a bone of contention. But little did the team know that the government was on its usual course of subterfuge and betrayal.
By late evening when the talks broke down and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s suggestion of running rough shod over the eleven-day long protest-fast by Anna Hazare got credence, the game plan of the government was in full display. Notably, Anna Hazare himself was skeptical of the government’s intention right from the beginning of the talks as he publicly declared that the government does not seem to be sincere in making headway in the talks.
It is quite clear that the government was being dragged into the talks because of Anna Hazare’s failing health. The corrupt government at the Centre led by Dr Manmohan Singh clearly understands the exigencies of the time. The olive branch was handed out to Team Anna in the belief that the core members of the civil society would be hard pressed to end Anna Hazare’s fast, and in their their desperation they would agree to relent on their demands. The government could hardly hide its chagrin when Anna Hazare said he can go on fasting for another nine days.
Even while going to print, the government seems to be going back on its earlier promises on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Though after the disastrous “Anna Hazare is corrupt head to toe” comment several other Congressmen like Salman Khurshid is filling the vaccum created by Manish Tiwari in name-calling.
The invisible man in the Prime Minister’s office Dr Manmohan Singh in his statement to the Parliament to defend the government’s inaction on Lokpal Bill took recourse to what he is good at – extolling the cause of India in world polity and its place among the developing countries because of its large market size. He quietly forgot the fact that the liberalising economy has been shamelessly exploited by A Rajas, Suresh Kalmadis and Kanimozhis.
But more than the polemics of the debate over the clauses of the Lokpal Bill the country was outraged by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee cryptic comment that Anna Hazare’s fast is the civil society’s problem and that the government couldn’t care less about Anna Hazare’s well-being.
Arvind Kejriwal in the morning of August 25, announced the civil society’s future plans of gheraoing the Prime Minister’s house on August 27 if the government does not see sense till then. By all measure the call will get an astounding response just as Anna Hazare’s call to take to the streets resulted in thousands gathering all over the country in protest against the government on the corruption issue. If Team Anna raises the ante again the government may not be able to control the events. The people of this country might rest only after overthrowing this government.