Whose Jan Lokpal Bill is this really?
The game of claiming ownership of the Jan Lokpal Bill is on in full swing. The anti-graft legislation has been trailing the circuits of the upper and lower houses for about two years now, but the one-upmanship over the bill has become a staple in the political corridors. With Rahul Gandhi, possibly reeling under the post-election defeat and humiliation, suddenly declaring that the Congress-led UPA has ’99 per cent’ chance of clearing the bill in the current winter session of Parliament and getting a stamp of approval from the ‘man of many fasts’ Anna Hazare, it seems that the grand old party and its rudderless leadership are trying to clutch on to the last straw of hope before they face the music of 2014 national elections. Given that the civil ombudsman bill, in its current form, is a watered down version of its original document, the opposition from the Aam Aadmi Party supremo, Arvind Kejriwal, is not unexpected. Kejriwal’s terming the UPA version of Jan Lokpal Bill a ‘jokepal’ is not just a sanctimonious rejection of the diluted draft, it is also an attempt on the part of the original agitator for the ‘vigilance bill’ to reinstate his signature on the progress of the legislation, from the debate surrounding its content to the eventuality of its possibly imminent passage. Kejriwal is also fighting back a concerted attempt of hijacking one of his pet project by the one party which has taken the maximum brunt of AAP’s meteoric rise in the Indian political firmament. Hence his rebuff of the Congress’ offer of ‘unconditional support’ and tagging it with an 18-point letter of conditions – requiring stated position of the previously ruling party and the main opposition on crucial issues like water supply, electricity prices, meter reading etc – is about trying to adhere to the party line of activism-driven politics and not being swayed by the first sight of the thorny throne of Delhi’s chief ministership. However, what is being systematically sacrificed in this theatre of rambunctious sanctimony is the important legislation itself, as every party is hell bent on trivialising it and what it represents for society at large.