Politicians engaged in a fierce debate with Team Anna over the proposed institution of Lokpal may not have noticed it, but a mammoth anticorruption campaign for a strong Lokpal has been gaining momentum online.
We are talking about the campaign, Act Against Corruption, which we launched on timesofindia.com a few weeks ago for a “strong Lokpal”. More than one lakh people have joined the campaign. The number is growing as the campaign continues. As a measure of public sentiment, the number is huge indeed, considering that online polls and surveys typically attract only a couple of thousand participants. Even product research, research for TV advertising and election forecasts are based on surveys of not more than a few thousand people. Other than the campaign, timesofindia.com carried out a poll in which more than 23,000 people participated. An overwhelming number of respondents said they wanted the PM, the judiciary and MPs under the purview of the Lokpal. The results of the poll were carried in Thursday’s edition.
A large number of those who have joined this online campaign have also posted their comments on our campaign page, backing Anna Hazare’s demand that the Prime Minister and the judiciary be brought under the purview of the Lokpal.
These comments not only present cogent arguments in support of Anna Hazare’s demands but also show the deep frustration and anger of the public with the political class in general. Some even go to the extent of calling for social boycott of politicians.
“Just supporting Anna by missed call or SMS is not enough, each and every Indian has to protest in their locality’s main road circles, so that the government comes to know what Indians can do,” writes Manoj Das from Bangalore.
“Political leaders are behaving like drug addicts, addicted to money at the expense of the motherland,” says Vish from Hyderabad.
“The toothless Bill prepared by the government requires to be replaced by a vibrant Bill which will cover the PM, judiciary, etc, as envisaged by the Anna group. If the president of the USA and the PM of Italy, to name a few, could be investigated unhindered, what is the problem in India?” goes the argument posted by N Krishnan.
Calling for the inclusion of all government functionaries in the ambit of the Lokpal Bill, Rajiv from Chandigarh writes: “Sovereignty of Parliament is not being challenged. Rather it is their (politicians’) sovereignty that is in danger. There is no doubt that the PM, MPs as well as bureaucrats must be included under Lokpal. Tough measures are indeed very important if we are sincere to root out this evil.”
Many of these online activists have also argued that the Constitution needs to be changed to root out corruption. “Toppling the government won’t help, one is more corrupt than the other! Need to change the Constitution of India,” says Olivio Barreto from Goa. “Indeed, We, The People of India (using the exact phrase as it appears in the preamble of our Constitution), are sick and tired of the ‘tyranny of the elected and the electable’ … Annaji has come as a breath of fresh air for all the despondent souls of Mother India … Wake up India … Wake up Bharat … We have to fulfil the dreams of Swami Vivekananda and our Bapu … Arise, Awake, Stop Not till the goal is reached,” says Rohit from New Delhi.
Some activists, like Sangam from Bangalore, call for an Egypt-like revolution to rid India of corruption. Ved Moudgil, an NRI from Union City,USA, writes: “If we miss this opportunity to be united against corruption to bring a strong Lokpal we may miss it for ever. I do not know when another Anna will be there.”
Does all this mean that the Lokpal should have unfettered powers? Certainly not, as Kishore Lohani from Dehradun argues: “I agree that a strong Lokpal Bill should be introduced in which all politicians including the PM should come under the ambit of Lokpal. Beside this, the government should introduce some system to avoid misuse of the Lokpal Bill.”