Even as the Hazare movement has drawn thousands to Freedom Park every day since August 16th, Bangalore’s MPs are camped in Delhi. While D B Chandre Gowda (BJP, Bangalore North) and Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Rajya Sabha) reportedly visited Freedom Park recently, the other MPs have not been as ‘accessible’.
On Tuesday, D B Chandre Gowda (BJP, Bangalore North) and P C Mohan (BJP, Bangalore Central) spoke to Citizen Matters over telephone on the Lokpal issue and Hazare’s ultimatum to the UPA government. Chandre Gowda is in his fourth term as MP. He was formerly with the Congress party and switched to the BJP before 2009 elections.
In India, MPs tend to vote along party lines even if their constituents’ views or their own views are different. Indeed, Chandre Gowda straightaway points this out to Citizen Matters. "You see, even though India is an independent nation, MPs in Parliament are usually bound by party positions and cannot always vote independently", he admits.
Chandre Gowda says has read the Jan Lokpal draft and is for the Prime Minister being brought under Lokpal, but he prefers that the Judiciary be left out. "Already everyone is being put under Lokpal in the Jan Lokpal bill, who is left?", he asked. "Parliament already has the power to dismiss judges", he pointed out. But when asked how a common citizen can file a complaint against a corrupt judge, his views were less clear.
Chandre Gowda also said he agreed with the clause of the CBI’s anti-corruption wing being merged into Lokpal. He also has no objection to the lower bureaucracy being brought under Lokpal.
Even with all this, neither the Jan Lokpal bill not the government’s bill addresses election corruption, says Chandre Gowda. "Most corruption starts with the elections and the Election Commission has to root it out and has not been able to", he points out.
On the Hazare campaign, Chandre Gowda speaks with the tone of a man seized of how far the movement had taken the issue. "People have a right to advise the government", he says. However, he disagrees with Hazare’s ultimatum-based approach.
"Hazare should wait, the bill needs more debate", he says referring to the fact that political parties themselves have not debated the bill in full.
In line with that, Chandregowda is quick to fault the UPA government for not calling opposition parties for consultations earlier. He says this is critical. "Even now it is not too late", he adds. As this article is being published, the central government is conducting an all party meeting in New Delhi.
P C Mohan, BJP MP from Bangalore Central spoke to Citizen Matters briefly. He appeared uninterested in a detailed take on the Lokpal topic and instead took his party’s line. "We want the judiciary out of the bill, we want the PM under Lokpal", he says.
Ananth Kumar (BJP,Bangalore South) was in meetings in New Delhi throughout the evening and morning before this article was published and was not reachable for comment. A large group of volunteers with the India Against Corruption movement cornered Ananth Kumar at his Bangalore residence on August 22nd, earlier this week. Bangalore IAC volunteer Srinivas Alvailli told Citizen Matters that Kumar expressed support for the Jan Lokpal (Hazare) bill, but did not respond with specific positions on any of the much contested clauses. "I will speak in favour of bill in Parliament", Alavilli says Kumar told him.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Rajya Sabha, Independent) has already thrown his support for Jan Lokpal bill in Parliament.
Speaking in Parliament on August 24th, he said that the debate on the Government Lokpal versus Jan Lokpal Bill was unnecessary and misguided. Using seven criteria that he outlined, he argued that the Jan Lokpal Bill provides for a much more effective institution. Chandrasekhar’s criteria for the Lokpal are: independence, adequate investigative power, adequate resources, confidentiality, international mutual assistance, professionalism and constitutionally compatiblity.
India is witnessing an unprecedented mobilization of people and minds on the issue of governance and corruption, and more specifically, about the Lokpal institution which is being discussed as a centerpiece of the architecture of a more transparent and accountable form of Government, said Chandrsekhar in his speech. He pointed that "It is the beholden duty of MPs to respond to this outpouring of views and concerns – voiced by our fellow citizens, but do so responsibly." ⊕