Speaking of protesting and snoozing, veteran social activist Anna Hazare held an agitation all the way back in 2011 for the implementation of the Lokpal Bill.
Back then in light of public pressure, and in order to calm down the situation, parliament passed the Lokpal Act in 2013. However, four years later, now 2017, the Act stood ignored by the people who demanded it at the first place. Prominent personalities like Arvind Kejriwal, Baba Ramdev, and Kiran Bedi were some of the high-profile members who supported Anna back then.
Post 2013, Lokpal Bill again saw the light of the day when, early this March, Anna Hazare had conveyed his decision to hold a Lokpal protest in a letter to Modi.
Fast forward to August, the veteran social activist sent a stinging letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemning the government for its delay in appointing a Lokpal even after three years in power. In the letter he mentioned that his protest will be aimed mainly against the Modi government’s unconcern in appointing a Lokpal.
Through the letter he threatened to hold another round of agitation in New Delhi, just like his previous one in 2011, if the said requirement is not met.
He initiated the campaign of the 2011 India Against Corruption movement and shot to fame with that. In April 2011, six years ago, Anna Hazare had begun his hunger strike at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. The major demand was a strong Jan Lokpal Bill to fight corruption. The India Against Corruption movement, rode the wave of popular anger against the Congress-led UPA government, has been one of the major reasons of the party’s defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Amid the indifference by its protagonists and cautious of an all-powerful Lokpal, the government too made a number of amendments to it, like the one in 2016 which removed the requirement for public servants to reveal assets of their spouses and dependent children.
In another government’s proposal in the Prevention of Corruption Act, which requires the Lokpal to seek government sanction not only for prosecuting public servants but even retired public officials, is also designed to weaken the Lokpal.
Hazare’s current letter also mentioned that he may also demand the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which talks of food security and farmers’ welfare.
Hazare lashed out at the government and wrote, “”It has been six years of a historical movement that aimed at creating a corruption-free India. But even after six years, the government has not drafted a definitive law to end corruption.” “For three years now, I kept reminding your government on the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayukts as well as on the welfare of farmers, but you neither replied to my letters nor took any action,” he wrote.
The letter demands of a Lokpal be appointed at the Centre, a Lokayukta in every state, and a Citizen’s Charter on ending corruption be adopted by the government.
What’s more astonishing is the attempt to intimidate the government, the 80-year-old activist Anna Hazare wrote to Modi that he will reveal the date and venue of his agitation in New Delhi in his next letter. He also mentioned that the government’s assurance to end corruption has not materialised yet.
With such assertions underway, and the elections a year and a half away, how optimistic do the prospects look for the Modi government?