Congress dithers on Lokpal bill as pressure builds

March 23, 2011

As the scandal-tainted Congress coalition in India struggles to deal with graft allegations, the focus has shifted to an anti-corruption bill that may well be the bane of future governments.

A view of the parliament building in New Delhi February 12, 2009. REUTERS/B Mathur/FilesThe Lokpal bill, which aims to bring the prime minister’s office and lawmakers under the purview of an anti-corruption ombudsman, has been introduced, rehashed and abandoned several times since 1968, the year it was first proposed.

Under growing pressure from the opposition and a hunger strike by 72-year-old activist Anna Hazare, the government may find it difficult to ignore the bill further.

But a cautious Congress still seems inclined towards a watered down version of the Lokpal bill.

In its current form, the bill suggests the Lokpal be a recommending authority without punitive powers. The Lokpal, a bench comprised of retired Supreme Court and High Court judges, will not have the authority to take action on its own.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met civil activists such as Hazare to discuss their demands for a Lokpal bill that would effectively rein in corruption.

Hazare, who is now part of a people’s movement called ‘India Against Corruption’, has threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike if the government does not make changes to the draft bill and ensure its swift passage.

Activists want stronger provisions such as a year’s deadline for investigations followed by a speedy trial and confiscation of wealth.

For now, Singh has set up a committee to study the bill but it remains to be seen if a toothless Lokpal would remain just a corruption watchdog — without actually having the power to curb it.

4 comments

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Nice article on something that hasn’t really been talked about in the media. Keep blogging. Good luck.

Posted by Viraj..Kulkarni | Report as abusive

Come on India. Its time to wake up. We need real Independence from these corrupt politicians at least now. Jai Hind

Posted by Indian1 | Report as abusive

Its time that we the people of India, the “Janata” took some responsibility. I think this is a good way to keep the politicians in check, no wonders they are sitting tight on thie bill, and the media too is not airing it at all. Let us pledge to be a corruption free nation .

Posted by E.coli63 | Report as abusive

All these Indian politicians are corrupt directly or by supporting their corrupt colleagues. Its high time we Indians rise up to the occasion and rein them by this Lokpal Bill. The media should also realise its responsibility and create a hype that only the party which supports this bill will win the next election, or they would find themselves standing with the corrupt of the country and loose.

Posted by Hishighness | Report as abusive