Social activist and National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy has welcomed the government's move to build a “national consensus” through Parliament for a strong anti-corruption and grievance redress mechanism. But she blamed the government of mishandling Anna Hazare's campaign.
“Setting up arbitrary conditions, such as limited number of days and protesters before letting Hazare to proceed, and subsequently arresting him when he refused to comply, were anti-democratic actions by the government," Roy told Hindustan Times in an interview. “The vilification campaign against the Bhushans and Hazare was also misconceived,” she added.
Roy's group, the National Campaign for People's Right To Information (NCPRI), has come out with an anti-corruption mechanism, including a Lokpal for the Centre and Lokayuktas for states. This proposal has provided a common ground between Hazare's Jan Lokpal bill and the government's Lokpal bill.
With the government on Thursday announcing to consider views from different civil society groups, Roy suggested that the government should show "magnanimity and vision" by addressing concerns of all. Then she asked Hazare to end his fast so that discussions can continue without pressure on his "life" and "safety".
There is a lot on the government's platter to form a strong framework to deal with corruption at all levels. Roy believes that there is convergence on all objectives between Hazare's version of Lokpal and NCPRI's mechanism.
"Both formulations (Jan Lokpal and NCPRI's version) seek to ensure that nobody is above the law. The only difference is that the Jan Lokpal seeks to do it under one institution, whereas the NCPRI formulation breaks it into four different institutions and a separate legislation for protection of whistle-blowers," Roy said.
Another member of her team, Nihkil De, said they want to deal with petty corruption in a much bigger way than the Jan Lokpal bill envisaged. De suggested a separate law for effective and stronger action against officials who harass citizens. However, the Jan Lokpal bill mentions dealing with petty corruption through institutionalising citizen charters under Lokpal.
Asking Hazare to end his fast, former Chief Justice of India JS Verma said there is no justification at least now for the continuance of the fast after the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament. “I would advise the members of his team to persuade to do so without any delay,” he said. Team Anna member Santosh Hedge asked Hazare to end fast and suggested that the campaign can continue.
Other civil society members also welcomed the likely truce between the government and Hazare.