Hon’ble Prime Minister,
Subj.: Response to your statement in Parliament on Anna Hazare - Dtd: Aug 17, 2011
Democracy, in it’s literal sense, means the will of the people that spearheads the directives and laws formulated by the country. The people are superlative in such a setup. But if recent events in India are to be considered, then we can say for sure, that this statement is being considered not applicable, at least by our incumbent Prime Minister’s Government.
Just to get the facts straight, I am as big a supporter of Anna Hazare and the Jan Lokpal Bill as any other of his in this country. But here I won’t discuss regarding the tit-bits of the “Sarkari Jokepal vs. Jan Lokpal” conflict; turn on any news channel and you will get ample general knowledge regarding it, enough to sustain our brain-banks for weeks if not months.
I couldn't help but laugh, at the unimpressive statement that you gave yesterday in the Parliament on the issue of arrest of Anna Hazare. A meek and powerless Prime Minister, spoke in a timid way justifying a crime that has no excuse.
I would like to give my response to few of your points that you stated in your statement in the Parliament.
Firstly, I was amused to find the first 9 paragraphs of your address full of exhaustive news-reading regarding the events leading upto the arrest of India’s crusader against corruption, Anna Hazare. As if our beloved Prime Minister was trying to prove to the country that he’s not politically deaf and blind, but only politically mute.
Coming to the 11th paragraph of your statement, you say:
I am not aware of any constitutional philosophy or principle that allows any one to question the sole prerogative of Parliament to make a law. In making a law on Lokpal, the Government has faithfully adhered to the well-settled principles. As far as I am able to gather, Shri Anna Hazare questions these principles and claims a right to impose his Jan Lokpal Bill upon Parliament.
I am aghast to hear such words from the highest representative of the people’s opinion in our country. Mr. Prime Minister, I ask you here on my blog’s humble podium – “If the people of this country have no right to question the sole prerogative of the Parliament when it decides to introduce and pass a weak bill, that too on one dealing with a rampant and burning issue of corruption, then what logic are you able to gather regarding whose voice you represent in the Parliament?”
In the 12th paragraph you said and I quote:
I acknowledge that Shri Anna Hazare may be inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a strong and effective Lokpal. However, the path that he has chosen to impose his draft of a Bill upon Parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our Parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Prime Minister, let me remind you, that it is not Anna Hazare’s path of peace and non-violent protest that’s fraught with grave consequences for our Parliamentary democracy, its in-fact the cause against which his fight is that’s fraught with such consequences. Corruption has turned into a menace, every single person in this country is getting poisoned from its fangs, and even you are not an exception to it.
Are you forgetting A. Raja, who in your honest watch and in your mute presence, created one of the biggest scams in the history of our “Rising India”? Don’t you remember Suresh Kalmadi, who has brought so much shame to our country in front of the entire British Commonwealth and the World, that its now a herculean task for this stain to be removed in the years to come? Or have you forgotten M. K. Kanimozhi, whose “close relationship” with Mr. Raja was instrumental in the scam that he created? I hope you remember, that one was a Minister in your government, another is an eminent leader of your political party and the latter is a sitting Member of Parliament from your alliance.
You talk about Anna Hazare’s protest against this very menace to be fraught with grave consequences for our Parliamentary democracy. And yet you seem unable to gather, that you have been facing grave consequences for yourself and for your Government, because of the cause. Your popularity has reached an all-time low as a virtue of these people being associated with you. From being perceived as a clean and honest Leader of the Nation, you are now thought of as a mute and passive observer of the tantrums that your party’s leaders like Kapil Sibal and Digvijay Singh throw around you.
Anyways, moving on to the 14th paragraph of your statement. You said:
In my independence day address, I spoke at length about the need to deal effectively with corruption. I would like to assure the House that we are determined to provide a Government that is transparent, accountable and responsive at all times and determined to fight corruption. But as I said on 15 August at the Red Fort, there is no magic wand by which, in one stroke, we will get rid of menace the of corruption
Mr. Prime Minister, I sincerely apologise to you that for the first time in my life I missed listening to the speech of the PM on the Red Fort on I-day. I woke up late and by that time Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai had already begun their “eminent group discussions” on your speech. I read the transcript of your speech from your website. Like them, even I was unimpressed by what you had to say regarding corruption.
Yes, I agree, you don’t have any magic wand in your hand to do anything, because all the wands are currently held by a woman being treated for cancer in the United States (wishing her a speedy recovery, by the way) and her son, and you have no permission to access them as the Prime Minister of this country. But I would agree with what Mr. Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha today (and I am not a BJP supporter, for the record), “You do not need magic wands to remove corruption Mr. Prime Minister, all you need is political will.”
I can totally understand your determination in providing an effective Lokpal, which is not accountable for the actions of the incumbent PM or sitting MPs, nor it deals with effective punishment for corruption in lower levels of the Nation’s executive and bureaucratic hierarchy, nor it has any provisions for accountability of the judiciary (although I understand that you will counter my last allegation by taking reference of the “Judicial Accountability Bill” which you are proposing to introduce to control the judges, who are currently governed by ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’).
I understand that Anna Hazare’s bill might not be perfect, but Sir, I can at least say that it’s honest. In a country like ours where MPs have right to decide their own salaries and allowances, its not the executive that reserves the absolute moral right to define who is made to Govern itself. And at least, I expect you, Mr. PM, to understand this perception, irrespective of the stand of your political advisors.
Moving on, you went to say:
With respect to the events of yesterday, I will only say that a functional democracy must allow multiple voices to be heard. But differences of opinion must be resolved through dialogue and consensus. Those who believe that their voice and their voice alone represents the will of 1.2 billion people should reflect deeply on that position. They must allow the elected representatives of the people in Parliament to do the job that they were elected for.
Sir, in my insignificant opinion in this profound Nation of ours, I do not consider that Team Anna believes that their voice is the sole voice of the Nation. I rather choose to say that its our Members of Parliament who believe so. When has been differences of opinion inside the Parliament been resolved through dialogue and consensus, and not through slogan shouting and adjournments? I agree, you should be allowed to do the job you are elected for. But when you deviate from such a stance, it is the equal civic duty of any citizen of India to stand up and challenge you and your Parliament, elected by us, to take up corrective measures.
It is painful to see a 74 yrs. old undertake a risk of life by holding a fast unto death to make us raise our voices. Mr. Prime Minister, Team Anna is not the sole voice of the Nation, but the fact is that our soft murmurs regarding the Nation going down to the dumps at tea shops and morning walks do not reach your ears. Someone has to then collect his strength and shout on top of his voice, for you to hear it, and even then you choose to disregard it. It is indeed a sorry state.
I could go on and on, dissecting every sentence of your speech and tear them apart into the meaningless ramblings that they are. But you see, the readers of this letter must already be impatient given the length at which I have been going on speaking regarding your statement, knowing that you will never even read it in your lifetime. Those who have gotten this far, I thank them, and I will conclude my letter to you by pointing out one last point.
Coming down to your final paragraph:
We as elected representatives of our people should do nothing to weaken our people's faith in the capacity of our democracy, our institutions and our social ideals and values to overcome all difficulties. We should have faith that we can build a promising future for ourselves.
I really liked this particular sentence in your speech, Mr. Prime Minister, and I am half assured that it must have been added by you at your discretion. You are right, you should be aware of our growing mistrust on the existent institutions of democracy, and I believe that this country is sitting on a volcano. Do not misread our silence as our ignorance, Mr. Prime Minister. In the past 2 elections, where fortunately you have been given chance to lead us twice, the universal adult franchise has proven itself to be a smart electorate and an observant voter. 2014 is not far, and India’s public is resisting political amnesia, as you must have seen in the polls of West Bengal held recently.
I sincerely hope, that you build upon your silent faith and take actions to build a better future for yourselves and for us. Do not fall into the misconception that the Parliament is superior than the people it represents. Parliament is supreme only when it upholds the views of the people it represents as supreme. It is we, the people, who are the sole deciders of our destiny, and you have a moral and elected responsibility to reflect our views and take decisions likewise. If a private citizen cannot get access to the democratic institutions to consider his version of the bill, then how can this parliamentary setup claim to represent its people’s voices?
I am sorry to say, but I won’t think you will ever understand my opinion, Mr. Prime Minister. Because, you have never faced an election to the Lok Sabha, you never had to face the judgement from your people and hence you can never be sensitive to the pulse of our universal adult franchise.
Speak out, prove to us that you are not modern India’s Dhritarashtra, show us that you truly deserve a chance to keep leading us from 2014 onwards. Take a stance, this is your rare chance to go down in the history books of India as a PM who stood for a greater good. Lest you should meet the fate that P. V. Narsimha Rao has met in the history books of the Congress Party.
I hope that, someday or the other, your or someone who represents you reads this. Even if not, then I will be happy that at least I took my chance in trying to make that happen. I do not have much expectations on you Sir, but still there is a hope to see you be, for all intents and purposes, the Prime Minister of the Republic of India.
A humble nobody called Prasannajeet Pani.