A subversion of Indian democracy?

 
An activist of Communist Party of India (Marxist and Leninist) listens to a leader during a protest against the government's version of an anti-corruption bill in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 India's anti-corruption law is jinxed, say analysts

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Are India's politicians serious about cleaning up public life?

After Thursday night's debacle in the upper house of the parliament, many believe they aren't.

Many commentators believe that the chaos leading to the adjournment of the anti-corruption Lokpal bill was orchestrated by the ruling party, something opposition parties have also alleged. How else did news channels begin predicting that an MP at the debate - ahead of the still-born vote - would actually trigger off chaos at least an hour before he actually did so? Did some of the speakers at the debate filibuster so that it would be extended up to midnight and the session would come to an end without the voting?

Whatever the truth, Thursday night was one the darkest nights in the chequered history of India's democracy. "The Lokpal chaos played to a script; a cynical orchestrated one, as our reporters predicted the disruption hours before it happened," tweeted news channel editor Barkha Dutt. She called it a "shameful subversion" of democracy. "Match fixing in cricket leads to a life ban," tweeted Rajdeep Sardesai, head of another top news channel. "What happens to MPs who engage in it?"

It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Lokpal bill would not have passed muster in the upper house as the Congress party did not have the number of votes needed to pass the key bill. The Congress party, however, says that the opposition burdened them with nearly 200 amendments which would have taken a lot of time to debate, and they simply ran out of time. The bill has not been killed and will be resuscitated in the next session of the parliament, the party says.

But what is clear, say analysts, is that India's politicians stand discredited - again - in the eyes of the people. "These are diabolical games [that politicians are playing]," said analyst Yogendra Yadav, aghast as a seemingly premeditated script unfolded to disbelieving viewers on live TV last night.

This must be good news for anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare who believes that the Lokpal bill was "weak and useless" anyway. So does his flagging campaign against graft gets a shot in the arm after the failure of India's politicians to come up a strong anti-corruption law?

On the street, people are asking thorny questions to which the politicians, both ruling and in the opposition, have no answers. What was the problem in voting for a less than perfect bill and make a beginning in combating graft? True, laws alone don't reform societies, but they do allow building strong, independent institutions, which India sorely lacks. "We can endure neither our condition nor the means to overcome it," tweeted analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta, quoting Polybius, the Greek historian, after the events last night.

On the eve of what promises to be a tumultuous year, Thursday night is being seen as a great betrayal of people and democracy by India's political class. A former director of the the federal Central Bureau of Investigation RK Raghavan has said he is convinced that "all those who wield authority at the present juncture - not only at the Centre but in the 28 states as well - despite all their political differences, are united in not warming up to the idea of cleansing public life". Don't be surprised if the bristling Indian streets erupt in anger against politicians in the new year.

 
Soutik Biswas Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 22.

    It is a blessing in disguise, as it only goes further to unveil the true face of the politicians. How can the criminals involved pass a law against their own activities. Soon enough the average Indian will see through this façade and hopefully vote in some real representatives to the corridors of power.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    My blood boils for what is happening in India. Being an Indian, it is shameful to show our face in the world because it has become of cesspool of every thing. What is needed is an Arab Spring in India - which is unlikely! Also, dumping the parliamentary democracy in favor of a presidential system can fix some of these problems - but not a reality. So, India seems to be doomed - at least for now!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    It is not that great issue that Congress could not pass the "weak" Lokpal bill. That has happened 7 more times before. The most pathetic part the way they did it- total deceit & desecration of democracy & parliament. It is just mockery if our "elected" representatives preach "supremacy of parliament". Many will find solace describing parliament as "pigsty', as communists used to say during 1970s.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 19.

    From the very beginning it was clear to many, including myself, that neither Congress-UPA nor majority of other, smaller parties has any sincerity to have a lokpal bill. Our politicians give more conviction & strength to "team Anna" than Anna Hazare himself. Our past also has a major role to play in it. Check it: http://jaychatterjee.blogspot.com/2011/12/our-legacy-our-liability-our-future.html

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    It is the same as : I dont choose the Game but if I dont play it I will fall behind.The direct question is how to bell these LicenseRaj Bollygarchs who subvert policy/govt, fund parties, fund media thru advertising revenue,choose the Cabinet etc?LicenseRaj Bollygarchs should be banned from Forbes List untill the billions stolen in the scams is re-invested in Sustainable Growth like education, etc.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    All commentators have been fooling themselves by eulogising the 'biggest democracy' in the world, that is India. Bunkum. Democracy in India has been misused by the ruling elite that are the MLAs ans MPS and their lackies, the beaurocrats. Ill-gotten wealth and priviliges have travelled to the uppermost echelons of power. Known for many years and condoned by the people and the powers that be.SHAME.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 16.

    It a shame that we have so many corrupt official both in paliment and and in the civil service. They all have only one thing in mind, to line their ill gotten gains as they can. They have only their own interests at heart and care nothing for the well-being of the nation.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    Congress had so many self-inflicted wounds in last 10 months, it might bleed itself to death by the next (2014) general elections. It has dug a little more tunnel, every time it has seen some light at the end of it. Can India's GOP gather its wits and get out of the quicksand, is the real question.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    Indian politics hereafter will be dominated by the politicians of States running the State Governments and not the so called all India parties that share power at the center with the regional parties.Coalition politics in India is being influenced by regional parties in a coalition. It may weaken the Central authority.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 13.

    Sonia Congress should realize that a Strong Lokpal means that Lokpal should be completely independent of Executive. Its current Lokpal bill is riddled with loopholes and devices to blackmail and pressurize Lokpal that will be used and misused by the Executive. This is a patent fraud on the people.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    P.P. Rao: As a citizen not involved in politics, thinks Congress was at least interested in passing 'SOME" bill but opposition was not keen FOR ANY BILL. It's disappointing. Perhaps P.P. Rao has summarized chaotic situation best. It appears, many Indian politicians are content to leave (corrupt) things as they are.
    Need a chat with Anna Hazare - what now?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    Legal expert & Senior Advocate P.P. Rao said procedure is outlined in Parliament under Article 109 of Constitution. Rajya Sabha can only recommend changes to bill after it has been passed by the Lok Sabha & it is for Lok Sabha to decide whether to accept or reject those recommendations. Plus, only amendments passed by majority voting in Rajya Sabha should have been sent to Lok Sabha.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Subhash C. Kashyap said there is no such rule proceedings could not continue after midnight without Presidential intervention. He himself has witnessed many proceedings which continued till morning. The Government is not above the House but House is above the Government. Kashyap called the voting avoidance a 'frivolous alibi'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    India being the largest consumer of 'democracy' needs to improve democracy to suit local conditions. Currently the opposition leaders spend their time pulling down the ruling party. Democracy in India is a reality show of 'Movers and shakers'. The ruling party is the 'mover of bills', but the coalition parties and opposition are the 'shakers' who shake the ruling class from making any good move.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    Apparently, state governments would not implement the law unless it is made mandatory for them. How did this happen?
    Some headlines that seem to demonstrate overall situation:
    No party wanted Lokpal
    Lokpal now 'in March'
    Rahul slams BJP
    Constitutional expert Subhash C. Kashyap said the House is supreme & govt should have put the bill for voting in Upper House.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    Who should be blamed for midnight fiasco over Lokpal Bill?
    Chief Justice, V.N. Khare: Describing midnight drama in the Upper House as unprecedented, said interest of the nation is taking back seat & MPs who are more concerned about individual interest. Apparently Chief Justice was awake till midnight, observing. He said: Nobody thinks in terms of nation; they think about there own self.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 6.

    Wonder how long we have to sustain this tyranny of dynastic politics, which does nothing to improve governance till the solutions were shoved in its mouth (Reforms of '91). Ruling party looks like believes in MBA(Management By Absenteeism). It does not take a single decision on a pro active basis which will be helpful for the countrymen.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    200 amendments accompanying the bill! Some persons wanted this "weak" bill stalled, showing even this "weak" bill is too strong for some stomachs. I have long said India needs to clean house - become a Federation of independent states, each with its own Provincial Government. India is too big...Nothing can get done.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 4.

    Electoral reforms to check misuse of money power during elections with a view to send better educated , service minded people to Parliament should perhaps have been the first item on the agenda of Team Anna. Incremental improvements rather than revolutionary overnight changes will assist strengthening democracy in this incredible nation of 1.2 billion and more. An anti corruption law can follow.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 3.

    Rome was not built in a day. One cannot built muscles with few days of exercise. The bill could not be passed in last 42 years. How Anna Hazare expects that the bill will be passed within one winter session, just because he wants it?

 

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