A Fact Check

Dear Smoochy,

Through this blog post I will try to answer many questions that you have posed in your blog post on Anna Hazare and his means of getting a bill passed. As a disclaimer, I am not directly related to the organization India Against Corruption or anyone who would have a vested interest (apart from clearing the air) in responding to your blog. My only objective is to put things in perspective. For this I will go step by step. You have mentioned in one of your comments that you will respond to people's queries in a follow up post. Since I do not know what you will be writing there, I will decide to update this post depending on your follow up post. Here goes my response:

i. Anna Hazare is hell bent on getting his version of the bill passed: I am not sure where you have gathered this information from but I have personally listened to Prashant Bhushan speak when he was in Hyderabad on 14th August and he said that they are ready to discuss many points of the bill with the government.  Also this article in Tehelka clearly states that Anna Hazare and his team is ready to discuss contentious points of the Lok Pal bill. Then what is Anna Hazare and his civil society coterie hell bent on. They want (and I support) a semblance of honesty and the right spirit of tackling corruption in the bill that the government presents in the Parliament. Have you read the Jan Lokpal Bill and the Lokpal Bill proposed by the government of the day? I hope not. Because ignorance is a better excuse than denial. I would have gone into the details of every point but all of us here are literate and referring to any comparison of the Jan Lokpal and Govt. Lokpal would make the govt's intentions clear regarding the bill they proposed. Here are a few links to comparisons of the two versions - Ombudsmen.in, Outlook, PRS Legislative, The Hindu. If you remember, there was a 10 member committee comprising of 5 ministers and 5 members of the civil society which tried to draft a common bill. You can debate the reason why it ended up in two different bills and we could take it up in another post.

ii. Corruption does not involve only the PM and MPs. Well you are bang on but again looks like you have missed out on reading the proposed drafts of the two sides. Jan Lokpal Bill proposes to cover all public servants including Grade D whereas the government does not do so. It stops at Grade A. You are right when you say everyone CAN be corrupt. You are actually supporting the JLPB by saying this since JLPB is more inclusive in its mandate than the GLPB. Throwing around words like votes can bought is not a very smart argument to make. Do you know whose votes are bought? People who actually vote. This is not to support bribing of voters but just to bring in perspective the people you are talking about. There is also ample evidence of the fact that people take money but vote the way they want. And talking about that, tell me what you would do if 4 strong men come to your shanty (mind you not the gated community) in the dead of the night and ask you to take money. Refusing is not an option.

iii. Talking about the right to protest. Everyone has the right to protest including freedom of place and duration of protest. The only point is one's protest should not cause inconvenience to others. Did you read the 6 conditions that Anna Hazare's team refused to agree to. In my opinion those six conditions go against the very spirit of freedom to protest. The conditions included - the protest should not last more than two and half days, no more than 5000 people should attend the protest, no more than 50 cars and 50 two wheelers should come to the protest. If you feel these conditions are valid well you can stop reading right here. Anna's team was ready to take an undertaking that there would be no violence or any inconvenience because of the protest. Did you know that? Did you listen to Arun Jaitley replying to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday. He clearly stated:
"The conditions imposed on a protest can be that you won't indulge in violence, you will not disrupt normal life.. but they cannot be such that they finish off your right to protest"
"This is the first time we are hearing these sort of conditions.. how many days will you protest, how big the protest.. A small protest will be allowed, a large protest will not be... You can't lay down impossible conditions that take away the right to protest. This is what the government is trying to do"
"Will the ministers give an undertaking to the Country that the Congress party will not have more than 5,000 people in its protests. It is incredible that there is no place in Delhi where a peaceful protest can happen"
iv.  About the Judiciary, I too have the highest regards for them. But the arguments you make to defend keeping them out of the ambit of the Lokpal are weak. Judiciary is not free of people who are dishonest. Did you watch the impeachment of a judge in the Rajya Sabha today? If you look around there are many more cases of judges' behavior being opposite to what is expected of them. We have every right to be cynical about them and the Lokpal too. And the JLPB has provisions to address this cynicism directed against the judiciary and the Lokpal itself. Having said that, I am not adamant on keeping the judiciary in. Your arguments still stand defeated.

v. You have given examples of CBI and CVC - do you know most the good work being done by CBI is on cases that are being monitored by the honorable Supreme Court. CBI has always been used as a tool to take up positions which protect the dispensation of the day and investigate the opposition.Have you never wondered why particular cases become hot only when a particular party comes to power. CVC is a recommendatory body and its findings and suggestions are not binding on the government - so giving example of CVC is also not a smart thing to do. Karnataka Lokayukta is a good example. What if someone like you had said the same thing about setting up a K'taka Lokayukta in 1983 - there are institutions already to deal with such things.

vi. What is your point when you mention TN Seshan and Santosh Hegde? Are you saying that institutions are as powerful as the individual heading them? I thought you started off your post supporting the opposite point of view.

vii. If you have to write about the country you need to know how it works (and not just how it works on paper). Your comment about the elections of India is an example - The government, which is properly elected by the majority of the people of India through free, fair elections - will not have the final say when it comes to making laws. - key points are properly and majority. According to one estimate Congress got around 28% of the votes polled in the elections of 2009. Another estimate says 30%. Your argument of a majority suported government stands hollow.

So next time you feel like voicing your opinion either leave judgments aside or think hard and think twice :) No hard feelings. Still respect your decision of choosing to not support the campaign against corruption.


  1. Thank you. I was looking for alternate perspectives, and I must say the other article threw me off balance. This clears things up.

  2. i totally agree. i have noticed that guys like smoochy are simply targeting anna or his team for holding the govt to ransom. they are actually working like agents of congress who r branding everything as a bhedchaal and calling people dumb followers of anna(i think if one goes on the same lines even our freedom struggle would look like a bhed chaal).people are supporting anna not simply because of lokpal bill, but to bring a change in the system.and guys like smoochy are just blind to see that. mr.smoochy and his supporters kindly wake up and understand parliament is not god, we the 'people' are god in a democracy....stop being a nerd of law books,be practical..people are actually suffering, if u cant support them atleast dont mislead them. let them fight this battle against corruption.

  3. @Aish: Despite your smugness, I will explain what I mean when I call your post lop-sided.
    When I express my views, I do not start with a bias towards Anna or the Govt. I try and analyze the issue rationally, and base my arguments on PRINCIPLES - such as the rule of law, the sanctity of the parliamentary process, the independence of the judiciary etc. - and as long as you accept these principles, most of the conclusions are irrefutable. I may not agree with the system entirely or like it, but I will respect in while it is in place, and behave in a disciplined manner, not arbitrarily.
    You, on the other hand, seem to support the Jan Lokpal Bill unconditionally and unquestioningly. For example, have you considered the practical aspects of setting up a body that covers ALL government officials? Wherever there is doubt, you give the benefit to JLPB - this can't be called fair.
    More significantly, your 'arguments' are mostly not based on principles, but on opinions and perceptions. E.g., you defend Anna's actions/methods by simply saying that you feel the conditions imposed were unreasonable. This is not enough to justify defying the police. You want the judiciary included in JLPB because of a perception that it also a corrupt system and you feel cynical about it. This is not enough to compromise the principle of independent Judiciary, especially in favor of an as-yet-unproven entity like the JLPB. You also seem to be questioning the legitimacy of the govt when you mention they have 28% vote share, and the free-ness and fairness of the electoral process. So, are you suggesting the government can be ignored or over-ruled, on this basis? You are allowed to have your misgivings about the system, but that doesn't justify disregarding it! If people start breaking rules or ignoring the system, and doing whatever they feel is right, it is called anarchy.

    Keep in mind - I am not against a Lokpal Bill, and not even against every provision in the JPLB draft, and not a fan of the govt. I also want to be part of the people's movement against corruption. But I cannot support a leader whose methods (some, at least) I consider anarchist and at odds with my civic sense & value system.

  4. @Ron: I don't know why you assume that I'm blind to the people's movement or that I don't support the movement against corruption or consider it dumb or wrong - I never said that, implied it or meant it. But I maintain that to unconditionally or unquestioningly support anyone or anything is herd mentality. I believe that everyone should examine all issues objectively and think for themselves, rather than blindly follow Anna.
    I don't see why I must support Anna when I don't agree with his methods. I don't understand how or why not supporting Anna Hazare - the person & his methods - necessarily means that I'm opposed to every idea he stands for, or why it excludes me from the people's movement against corruption.
    Please stop taking such a simplistic view of everything and assuming I mean things I haven't actually said.

  5. @Smoochy

    To start with, apologies for my smugness. It was not intended to be that way.

    i. My reason for writing the post was to try and show to you the hollowness of many of your arguments. That I do support a stronger Lokpal than what is being offered by the government does not in anyway make my argument lopsided. The bias that you attribute to me is actually termed as taking a stand (in a rational manner) as you have taken yours.

    ii. Did I question the independence of the judiciary in my post? Did I question the rule of law? Did I question the sanctity of the parliamentary process? I do not think I did. So basically your principles are the same as me.

    iii. Also please point out specific instances which made you think that I support the Jan Lokpal Bill blindly. I thought of mentioning the point of setting up a body of the size that you say when I mentioned that even Grade D public servants would be included. But I thought otherwise because my intention was to set the facts right and also to counter specific points that you raised in your post.

    iv. Again you make me smile. "MY" perceptions that the conditions were unreasonable. Everyone except you seems to share that perception. I gave the example of the leader of the opposition who derided the conditions put on the protest. Many "intellectuals" including those who do not support the protest have clearly stated that the six conditions were against the rights of a person to protest. You sound more like a govt babu (no smugness intended) than a responsible citizen when you say this.

    v. Again you are extrapolating my statements. Again, I wanted to set the facts straight. When I talk about the 28% vote share, I am pointing at the electoral reforms required to get a more representative government. And seriously, if the government of the day has 28% share of the votes polled what are your views on this election. Once more did you yourself not question the free-ness and fairness of the electoral process when you talked about votes being bought and sold. So I am not sure if you are contradicting yourself.

    vi. And again I have my misgivings about the system but where in my post have I talked about disregarding it?

    vii. I am not sure what your civic sense and value system are. My civic sense and value system do not encourage me to blindly follow rules. They make me question excesses and use my discretion. And my advise to you would be to use your discretion because otherwise you will be following the rules laid down without knowing if they are wrong or right.

  6. I do not have the patience left to argue with everything, so just making a few key points.

    You cant say your principles are the same, and you do not question the rule of law etc. - and then also support Anna's methods that go against those very principles. You can't say you believe in the sanctity of the parliamentary process, and also support someone holding the process hostage. You can't say you believe in having an independent judiciary, and also want to bring it under the authority of the Lokpal. The two are at odds. Make up your mind before you start arguing.

    You point (iii) isn't clear at all. Are you in favor of covering even grade D or not? We can argue once you clarify your POV on this.

    (iv) Don't try to dismiss my point simply by assuming the right to speak for 'everyone else'. Going by the stats on my blog post - which is a base running into thousands now - I can tell you at least 25% people don't support Anna, and most of them believe the conditions were reasonable. Even so, even if Anna, you and the majority 'feel' otherwise, it doesn't give him the right to defy the police. This, by the way, is 'rule of law' - a principle which you say you don't question. If Anna felt the conditions were unreasonable, he should seek legal remedy, or try to find alternatives. 'Jail bharo' is still not justified.

    (v) I'm not saying the system is perfect. We need electoral reform. But till the system exists in this form, it should be respected. That is another 'principle'. In your post, you insinuated that I don't know how the country works, which is offensive BS. I'm not insulting your intelligence or assuming ignorance on your part - and you have no right or information to do so either.
    Then you went on to explain how the Cong only had 28% vote share. What's your point? Are you saying that the govt isn't legitimate? Are you saying Anna can dictate terms to the govt coz they only represent 28% people? I'm sorry - I don't agree.

    (vii) Following rules is not a matter of discretion, it is a responsibility. Of course you can question rules. If you think they're wrong, you should work to get them changed through the proper process. But till they exist, you cannot ignore them and act arbitrarily. Respecting a system isn't 'blindly following it' - it's civilized behavior.

  7. Smoochy,

    Let it be known that this argument ended with your last reply. I think our view points are quite different. I respect that. I will pray however for some 'uncivil' people to remain in our society. On that note, goodbye.