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Tottering poll plank

delhi Updated: Jul 25, 2013 01:36 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji

There is no missing the irony. Although it’s the poll season now with corruption being a major issue, political parties are working out strategies to use or evade the issue.

And nobody seems keen enough on getting nine anti-corruption bills languishing in Parliament for two consecutive sessions.

The monsoon session of 2012 was disrupted after the Opposition demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the CAG report on coal block allocations.

This year’s budget session saw another round of disruptions and following that, then law minister Ashwani Kumar and then railway minister Pawan Bansal had to quit.

But still, the UPA’s strategy for the approaching monsoon session — as gathered from its discussions with allies and Opposition parties — don’t focus on these bills.

Instead, the food security and RTI ordinances, the bills on land acquisition and the long-pending reforms-related legislation on amending the Insurance Act and the pension fund top its priority list.

And with just 16 working days slotted for the session, critics feel chances for the bills to get passed are slim.

The bills in question aim for a grand clean-up action and address a variety of issues from stopping bribes in public services to the need to check benami transactions for fighting black money to ensuring transparency in government procurements and, of course, to setting up the anti-graft authority, the Lokpal (see box).

The non-NDA, non-UPA parties blame the government for the delay in passing the anti-corruption measures.

“The government has to come up with its plans to pass these bills. The current debate on Modi suits both the Congress and the BJP. It diverts public attention from other issues, including corruption, where both the parties have a lot to answer,” said the BJD’s chief whip of the Lok Sabha, Bhartruhari Mahtab.

The government’s inability to push the anti-corruption bills may prove to be crucial as the prime charges against the UPA continue to be graft and price rise.

Be it the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the 2G spectrum allocation scam, the Aadarsh Housing scandal in Mumbai, the CAG report on coal allocation, the government has had its fair share of corruption charges.

In fact, BJP veteran LK Advani has termed the UPA 2 government as the “most corrupt” in independent India.

The national political debate between the Congress and the BJP is currently veering around Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the related issues of communalism.

But even before Modi got promoted as the party’s chief campaigner for the 2014 polls, the urgency over the anti-corruption bills perhaps was already lost.

Several back channel meetings have taken place between the Congress managers and Opposition leaders over the issue of pending bills after the Budget session was wrapped up in May. But sources indicate none of the meetings focused on these anti-corruption bills.