Then as farce

Anna Hazare has accused the Centre of "cheating the people" by trying to enact a weak Lokpal, to "save" corrupt politicians. Meanwhile, Prashant Bhushan contends that the CBI chief's selection was bound to be problematic, given that it would be decided by two politicians ("the prime minister and someone who hopes to someday be prime minister") and the Chief Justice of India (previous holders of that office having let it down, in Bhushan's view). Anna Hazare will go ahead with his fast on December 27 in Mumbai, and rally people to seek arrest.

By now, political parties should have learnt there is no winning with Team Anna. They are not looking for a mutually negotiated, workable Lokpal how can they, when they hold our representative institutions and constitutional offices in such contempt? The prime minister is weak, the leader of the opposition is driven solely by self-interest, the CJI is marred by association. This vocabulary of "lying", "cheating" and complicit public officials may rouse a certain kind of rabble, but it should remind the rest of the dangers of allying with such a shallow, hot-headed movement. Team Anna deserves full credit for ensuring the Lokpal bill has come to this pass deferred for decades, it will finally be introduced in this parliamentary session. They have managed to make each of the clauses a high-stakes matter, and the government has met them mid-way on many of the Lokpal bill's clauses. However, even though the bill is being processed by the cabinet, and will soon be given over to Parliament to debate and resolve, Team Anna still insists it will shortchange the nation, having been drafted by self-serving politicians. Any deviation from their own script of the Lokpal bill is an attempt to gull citizens, in their view. Those who walk with them are patriots, and the others either lack courage or are accomplices in corrupt practices.

The point is, given what we know of them, Team Anna must not be allowed to set the terms any more. They do not own the cause of the Lokpal, or that of integrity in public life. The upcoming debate in Parliament must consider the bill on its own terms, without heeding the chants from Hazare's crowds.

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