AAP asks Anna to drop fast, join them

Warning against ‘agents of the Congress and the BJP’, the Aam Aadmi Party has called upon social activist Anna Hazare to give up his fast and join the electoral movement.

“While expressing our full support for the cause for which Anna is fasting, we call upon him to give up his fast and join the resurgent civil society movement for an electoral revolution in the country which promises to bring about the revolutionary changes in the democratic, electoral and anti corruption system in the country,” the party said in a letter circulated to members.

The AAP, led by RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, PIL activist Prashant Bhushan and others like Manish Sisodia, pointed said no amount of fasting and protests will force the mainstream parties to pass a strict Lokpal bill.

After keeping the bill in cold storage for two years, the Congress Party said it wanted to pass the bill after the AAP defeated it thoroughly in the recently held Delhi elections. The AAP urged Anna not to allow the parties to fool the people by passing a toothless Lokpal bill.

“Agents of the Congress and the BJP have been going to him to get him to accept this Jokepal bill,” the AAP said.

“We are now witnessing an unseemly spectacle in Parliament with the Congress and the BJP fighting to claim credit for passing this farcical Jokepal bill, with or without the cosmetic amendments of the select committee. In either case, it would remain a far cry from the Jan Lokpal bill which had been drafted by Team Anna and for which Anna had fasted at Ramlila maidan.”

The Congress and the BJP were not going to allow any independent and credible Lokpal which would send half of their ministers and many of their leaders to jail, it added.

The Jan Lokpal was conceived as an independent empowered and accountable ombudsman which could independently, credibly and expeditiously investigate corruption offences of all public servants.

“The Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha left the selection of the Lokpal essentially in the hands of the government,” AAP said. “It also left the accountability of the Lokpal in government hands, thus completely compromising the independence of the Lokpal. Equally importantly, this bill left the Lokpal’s corruption investigations in the hands of a government controlled CBI. Also, the bill did not contain even a single one of the 3 provisions which the Parliament had unanimously promised Anna Hazare before he broke his fast.”

A fast was undertaken by Anna Hazare at Ramlila Maidan in August 2011 for passing a tough Lokpal bill. To end the fast, the Parliament passed a unanimous resolution committing to passing a Lokpal Bill which would have at least 3 elements: That all public servants, high or low would be included in the investigative ambit of the Lokpal; that the Lokpal would also monitor the Citizen’s charters and have the power to penalize public authorities and servants who violate it; and that the Lokpal bill would contain provisions for Lokayktas on the same lines as the Lokpal for the States, which would take of corruption among State Public servants.

“Only group A public servants and not all were brought within the Lokpal’s purview; there was no provision for a State Lokayukta’s in this bill; and there was no mention of a citizens charter,” AAP said.

“The investigation of the Lokpal was crippled by the need to first have a preliminary inquiry where the accused public servant would have to be heard (thus allowing him to destroy evidence) before even the FIR could be registered. And worst of all, a person whose complaint was labeled “frivolous or vexatious” by this government controlled Lokpal could be imprisoned for upto 5 years (even more than the punishment for corruption),” AAP said.

AAP called the recommendations of Parliament’s select committee cosmetic

“In the selection and removal of the Lokpal, slightly more weightage has been given to the opposition rather than the government, but even with this, the appointment and removal of the lokpal remains under the control of the political class who usually would have the same vested interest to have a weak and pliable Lokpal. Similarly, the select committee has recommended that the CBI officers investigating the corruption complaints entrusted to them by the Lokpal would remain under the suprindentance of the Lokpal and would not be transferred out without the permission of the Lokpal. However, the essential administrative powers over the CBI officers of promotions, postings, disciplinary control and post retirement jobs would remain with the government, thus rendering them beholden to and dependant on the government. Nothing substantive is proposed by the select committee to deal with the 3 assurances of Parliament to Anna,” it said.

Anna has refused to join the electoral process several times in the past despite strong demand from followers. He has called politics dirty and believes it would be difficult to maintain ideological and practical purity after entering the political process.