Monday December 16, 2019
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Weak Lokpal: Et tu, Kejriwal?

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A day after AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh sounded out anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015 tabled by their government, former party leader Prashant Bhushan on Friday met the social activist in Ralegan Siddhi to explain main flaws in the bill.

Bhushan claims the lacunas in the AAP’s Lokpal bill make it pretty weak as compared to the original draft of the bill from 2014 which the party had failed to table by virtue of the alleged opposition by the BJP and Congress.

The Delhi cabinet on Thursday cleared two amendments to the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, 2015 after Kejriwal assured Hazare to implement his suggestions in the bill.

One amendment proposes a seven-member panel to select two members and chairperson in the institution of Jan Lokpal. Now, the proposed new members will include another judge from the high court, any eminent personality selected by the rest of the committee members and the Lokpal chairman from the next term.

As for removal of Lokpal, there would be a high court inquiry first before referring the matter to the assembly, two-thirds of the Delhi assembly can vote to remove the ombudsman.

ALSO READ: Five reasons why AAP Lokpal is Mahajokepal

However, seeking the reinstatement of the original draft of the 2014 bill, Bhushan explained to Hazare the major flaws in the ombudsman that includes the clause which allows the Delhi Lokpal the power to investigate charges of corruption against central government employees. This, he believes, could lead to an unnecessary impasse.

Bhushan alleged that this provision has been introduced with malafide intentions to ensure that the central government does not approve and the bill never gets passed. The AAP will then claim that it tried to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, but the central government obstructed it.

Furthermore, Bhushan has alleged no investigative machinery has been given to or placed under Delhi Lokpal as per section 10 in the proposed bill. Without its own independent officers, solely recruited for and dedicated to the institution, the Lokpal would merely be like the various other commissions and tribunals.

He has also claimed that the AAP government wanted the appointment of the Lokpal to be controlled by the political class and would not let any appointment be made without the approval of ruling party as the selection committee for the Lokpal would consist of High Court Chief Justice, the Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker and Leader of Opposition.

Hazare has assured Bhushan to look into the matter. Needless to say, considering the flaws pointed out by Bhushan, who was expelled from the party along with Yogendra Yadav, the Lokpal introduced by the Delhi government comes across as pretty weak and a watered down version of the 2014 Lokpal.

The Delhi government, with 67 MLAs out of total 70 in the state Assembly, was expected to bring a strong anti-corruption ombudsman, but one fails to understand why, despite the overwhelming majority, Kejriwal has tried to compromise on the effectiveness of the Lokpal.

Is it the case that now when Kejriwal and his supporters have found their way to the corridors of powers, they have realized that in order to survive in the system corruption is a necessity? Is he in a way trying to aid corruption by introducing an apparently weak Lokpal?

It is a pity that a party that came into existence on the plank of an anti-corruption movement is apparently being soft on the issue of graft. It is an injustice to the lakhs of volunteers and supporters of the AAP who saw a ray of hope in the fledgling party and sacrificed their time and money to build it from the scratch.

Kejriwal must answer these tough questions that make AAP look like a mirror image of other political parties. What is it that differentiates AAP from others?

Tum toh un jaise nikle (Alas, you also turned out like others).

(Image: Indian Express)

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Impeachment Process Divides Global Opinion, but Shows Democracy in Action

Trump Impeachment Drama Gets Attention, Mixed Reviews Around World

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Impeachment Process of Donald Trump
President Donald Trump waits outside the Oval Office of the White House before walking with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump on the South Lawn in Washington, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is traveling to Florida for a campaign rally and the Thanksgiving holiday. VOA
As the impeachment process against U.S. President Donald Trump unfolds, it’s not only Americans who are following every twist and turn. Millions of people around the world have been following the testimonies on Capitol Hill and are fascinated by the political warfare in Washington. Many observers say it shows American democracy in action.

Trump is accused of threatening to withhold $392 million in military assistance to Ukraine, unless Kyiv launched a public corruption investigation into the family of his political rival, the Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden. Soliciting foreign interference in U.S. democracy is unlawful and Trump strongly denies the allegations.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Britain is trying to break out of its own political crisis caused by the 2016 vote to leave the European Union. With a general election imminent, many Britons see their own recent political chaos mirrored across the Atlantic, says political scientist Thomas Gift of University College London.

“Both the U.S. and the U.K. [Britain] are rivaling one another for levels of dysfunction in government, or lack of ability to get things done,” Gift said. “Typically, the world, including the U.K., looks to the U.S. as a model of democratic governance and has had, for a long time, institutions of power and leadership that project integrity. And I think watching this, particularly from abroad, I think does to some extent undercut that belief that the U.S. is this kind of moral, ethical and democratic leader.”

Polls suggest less than one in five Britons have a positive opinion of Trump — and that’s echoed in the views of many watching the impeachment process play out.

View of the Arc de Triomphe
General view of the Arc de Triomphe as French President Emmanuel Macron attends a commemoration ceremony for Armistice day, 101 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France. VOA

“If it goes through the House, I really hope that the Senate really stand up and do something about it. He shouldn’t be president and he should be impeached,” London resident Dayo Thomas told VOA.

In Paris, there is mixed interest in Washington’s political battles. Jacques Grau, a physician, believes the impeachment process is a good idea. “It allows democracy to function,” he told VOA.

Student Selene Ay says many of her contemporaries are not that interested.

“I know a lot of people followed after [Trump] was elected. But I think it kind of died down, I guess. People don’t care that much.”

There appears to be greater interest in Russia — and seemingly, greater support for Trump. Moscow resident Mikhail says the Americans elected Trump, “but now they want to take the decision back. That is wrong,” he said.

Fellow Moscow resident Dmitri says it is a political struggle. “[Joe] Biden’s team is just looking for compromising information to make Trump step down.”

They may be strategic rivals, but Russia doesn’t necessarily welcome America’s political problems, according to Andrey Kortunov, director of the Russian Council on International Affairs.

Buildings in Cairo, Egypt
A general view of clustered buildings in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“The only U.S. president who can fix problems with Moscow is a strong U.S. president,” Kortunov told VOA. “So if Trump is under impeachment it definitely weakens his position and it becomes more difficult for him to manage this very complex and very delicate relationship. We need to have predictable partners. Weakness makes leaders unpredictable.”

With 1.3 billion people, India is often called the world’s biggest democracy. In Delhi, there is admiration for principle of impeachment. “It means that it is a very fair, a proper democracy at work,” according to Dipika Nanjappa, who works at a local voluntary organization. Retired government official Ashish Banerjee agrees: “We need to be more accountable. Our leaders need to be more accountable,” he told VOA.

Cairo resident Sameh Ghoneim sees echoes of Egypt’s own leadership in the alleged actions of Donald Trump. “He is only interested in personal gain,” said Ghoneim, who works as a mining engineer outside the capital. “He will look for corruption in others when it helps him.”

ALSO READ: Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

In South Africa’s Johannesburg, opinion on Trump’s fate is again divided. “I think he’s doing just fine, so I don’t see the reason why he should be removed,” said local chef Khanyisile Shongwe. Cleaner Joseph Maisa is no fan of the U.S. president. “He doesn’t bring nice things in America. That is why he should be removed.”

The impeachment process could go on well into 2020, as the U.S. also gears up for the presidential election following what promises to be a bitterly fought campaign. Each twist and turn will be followed closely across the globe. (VOA)