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Attempt by the Government to delay or divide opinion on the Lokpal Bill – need to water down some of the more important clauses




When the fast by Anna Hazare to bring out fundamental changes to the Lokpal Bill (to make it more effective) started gaining force, the Government had to change its attitude. It initially thought that it could dismiss the attempt by Anna Hazare as a attempt that would not lead to anything, and the initial attitude of the ministers was cold and dismissive. It was only the sustained media coverage along with increasing citizen participation (helped by the number of corruption cases that were coming up) that forced the Government to acknowledge that it would need to take action. So, it decided to go ahead with trying to set up a committee to work with a set of representatives from the ‘civil society’ so as to reform the Lokpal Bill to make it more stringent.
Having seen the actions of the Government in the past in terms of dealing with controversial or difficult issues, there are multiple ways that the Government uses. It tries to split the people involved, it tries to tarnish them, it tries to delay them with official sounding terms, and so on. And as we can see, all these measures have been tried. Within a couple of days, there were many areas where the members of Anna Hazare’s committee members were sought to be tarnished, primarily targeted at the Bhushans, seeings to implicate them in cash and land dealings, in an infamous CD, and so on.

Then, there were a number of articles from many people (some of these would be genuine) which doubted the nature of what the protesters wanted, which sought to portray the proposed Lokapal as an out of control monster who would ride over all protection (ignoring the fact that the powers that the Lokpal sought are already there with investigating agencies right now, and would not include the power of deciding cases, which would remain with the judiciary). Over a period of time, such apprehensions were laid to rest.
Then there are the measures to split the civil society, with efforts being made to portray Baba Ramdev as another protester who opposes many of the efforts being put in by the Anna Hazare led members, any utterance by Kiran Bedi was highlighted (till these people learnt that not making statements is the best way to defeat the game of the Government). This is the current phase of the game, and Baba Ramdev seems to be learning (he has just repudiated the last statement about the Lokpal being able to investigate the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India).
We need to see what the next steps will lead to. It is quite reasonable to assume that the Government will not give in without a big fight, claiming that the political class will never agree to such a bill.




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