The mode of protests against the political class has undergone a complete change over the past couple of years — first the huge middle class mobilisation on the issue of corruption and the more recent one against the horrific gang rape in the Capital, which saw spontaneous student and youth protests.
The demands were straight in both cases — bring tough laws to tackle corruption and crime against women. The public anger directed against the political class provides a rare opportunity in 2013 for ushering in an era of clean politics in the country.
It is now up to all major political parties to shed their differences on issues of public interest like electoral reforms and long pending bills to eradicate corruption.
The UPA government did cover a lot of ground in trying to forge political unanimity on electoral reforms. In the past two years, it has completed seven regional consultations on how the faith of citizens can be restored in the process of elections.
Its agenda, which includes disqualifying candidates against whom chargesheets have been filed in courts from contesting elections in future, is ambitious.
The government’s blueprint also mentions effective measures to curb the use of black money and muscle power in elections.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been keen to push this agenda, and 2013 could see fresh changes in the Representation of People’s Act, if the government can get all major political parties on board to set the ball rolling for this longstanding reform.
Another area of concern for the government is the complications involved in getting the anti-graft Lokpal bill passed in Parliament.
The popular movement led by Anna Hazare in 2011 had forced the UPA to bring this bill to Parliament.
It has undergone numerous changes and the bill passed by the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011, has been amended by a Rajya Sabha panel. This means that once the upper house passes this high-profile legislation, it will have to be sent back to the Lok Sabha once again for ratifying the changes made by the Rajya Sabha.