Jan Lokpal – What needs to happen now.

Seriously, this needs to happen. The government:

  • The government must realize the futility of suppressing and subverting people and level with them. Compromise will be needed, and it must be adhered to with scrupulous honesty, if the people’s trust is to be won. Without this, it is all down hill.
  • Compromise need not necessarily mean that we have a JanLokPal installed instantly. However, it is important that the spirit of the previous word is kept. When the government announced the Joint Committee, it was expected that the JanLokpal version would be discussed and adopted as far as practical. What happened was a smear campaign on the representatives of the people, angering them further and raising serious questions of the government’s intent to actually compromise. Attack on Baba Ramdev’s protest further aggravated matters.When the Joint Committee fell apart, the logical way of progressing would be to treat the two splits with equal respect. Instead, the JLP version got scrapped, negating everything the people struggled for. Stonewalling the people’s right to protest was the next big mistake, as it is a basic right and assured in our constitution. This put the government on the wrong foot and added to anger. Arresting Anna Hazare was a  mistake of epic proportions that Team Anna further managed most excellently by refusing bail. Anna refusing to leave prison without assurances that further interference with his protests wouldn’t happen was a masterstroke that put paid to all the underhanded games of the government and delivered a reprimand too.

    This is not the way to win friends and influence people. This isn’t about what was right or wrong, but how the highly respected representatives of the people are treated – like criminals. This needs to change, even if the government ends up giving up more than it should – winning the people’s support is paramount in a democracy or any country – more important than scoring points off each other. Something Team Anna has ALWAYS kept high priority. The faster the government learns this, the better it is for the country.

  • The urgent need is to stop fighting petty battles and losing every step of the way, and find a strong, nation affirming point to make a clear, ethical stand. Compromise till there, compromise with grace and use that compromise to engage the people and invite their compromise.
  • Get Anna off the roads, get this increasingly unwieldy circus of the road, put both bills in Parliament. THEN put your hands on the constitution, faith in democracy and defend the Parliament’s space to debate without pressure. This wouldn’t have been needed if the Joint Committee had been handled maturely. Would have been out of the question if the original protests had been handled differently. So stop pointing fingers and allocating blame, and accept that a government is responsible in matters of the country and it had the greater responsibility that it abandoned – overconfidence in its power to disrupt opponents to give it the upper hand. It failed. NOT Team Anna’s fault. So suck it up, learn some humility and get to task defending the Parliament’s space and get this whole tamasha back on a constitutional track.
  • Do not try ONE juvenile antic again, because it is harming the government and thus the stability of the country more than protesters.
  • Let the Parliament do its thing, however it unfolds, without any interference and without allowing any interference. This will only happen if the government is scrupulous and transparent, or it will lose again.
  • Might be useful to provide alternative viewpoints that may make the Bills more effective, and allow for face saving compromises without having to give in to the “other” side. May I suggest NCPRI’s version? It has some great suggestions and is a more reasonable medium offering lesser ego resistance. Might be useful to get around stalemates. As a resource, not a third bill.
  • Most importantly, LEVEL with the people, not manipulate and sabotage. You can counter satyagraha with scrupulous honesty, not tactics – it will only keep consolidating. Ask the Brits.
For Team Anna:
  • Admire the stand taken, and agree with actions so far.
  • Must recognize that a clap takes two hands. If the Joint Committee fell apart, it took the efforts of two sides. Blame games will not help our country, and it is important to keep the heart big, and open, and be willing to trust as many times as it takes, rather than get into a stand off.
  • Important to be willing to compromise, and make that willingness clear, in spite of betrayal. Not the way of satyagraha or democracy to insist that any one entity can be totally right and the other must obey totally or suffer our resistance. The strength of our stand is in principles, and they must get increasingly refined and larger than any one or all of us as we proceed.
  • It is the time to be like the willow, not oak. Not because we lack power, but because the intent is not to break, but to build.
  • Most importantly, the constitution must be paramount. If we disrespect that, then there is no basis of claiming anything in the name of us as a democracy. Making it clear that I have not seen anything of concern, but there are those who fear that the Satyagraha will be used to pressure the Parliament into getting the Bill passed unchanged. These fears are practical obstacles too and can be addressed easily. There must be clear communication that this will not be so. Not because we can’t, but because it will not be respected, because it will create political tangles around the LokPal instead of allowing clear functioning. If needed, this must be delivered in writing voluntarily – that there will be no pressure on the Parliament to do anything different in the process of passing this law. This will also go a long way in silencing skeptics in the public and government who fear that the Satyagraha might sabotage democracy and constitution itself.
Do this. Don’t get into ego struggles. Not useful for country.
Talked out.

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Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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