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Is Anna suffering from selective amnesia?

By Soroor Ahmed, TwoCircles.net,

Anna Hazare’s silence over two recent offensive statements made by two different non-Congress politicians -one from North and another from South-came as a big surprise to all those engaged in the anti-corruption crusade. Firstly, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar strongly criticized Arvind Kejriwal, when the latter questioned the state government’s move to set up a weak and toothless Lokayukta.

The state government is planning to table The Bihar Lokayukta Bill 2011 in the coming Winter Session of the State Assembly but Kejriwal dubbed it as a copy of UPA government’s Lokpal Bill.&nbsp. Though Shanti Bhushan and Kiran Bedi chose to back Kejriwal, the man often hailed as Gandhi of the era did not open his mouth. Though Nitish repeatedly said he did not wish to get embroiled in any debate on the issue, yet he went on to say that he does not need any certificate and would not take dictation from anyone.

Within a couple of days after his diatribe, came Karnataka BJP chief K S Eshwarappa’s statement that the Gowda government would have to consider closing down the Lokayukta. “Thieves are catching thieves,” was how he commented. Though former Lokayukta Justice (Retired) Santosh Hegde chose to denounce this outrageous remark of the state BJP chief yet Anna has not spoken on the issue.

But this is not the first case of Anna’s double-standards. On April 10th last he praised the chief ministers of Gujarat and Bihar, Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar respectively, for the ‘good work’ in the field of rural development. He did not ask them why these two states do not have powerful Lokayukta or the institution of Lokayukta at all.

His April 10th statement, made at height of his first fast evoked strong reaction. He clarified a week later that he did not approve communal politics of Gujarat. However, he had nothing to say on Nitish then. In fact he met the Bihar chief minister in New Delhi on June 30. The latter, while writing in his blog on September 13, promised a strong Lokayukta, it needs to be recalled that Bihar already has a Lokayukta since 1973.

Nitish also gave hints about seeking help from Team Anna leader Justice (Retired) Santosh Hegde for drafting the Bill. But nothing of that sort happened and on November 8 the Bihar cabinet Okayed the draft of The Bihar Lokayukta Bill 2011, which came under strong criticism from Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan and Kiran Bedi, but not Anna.

Modi and Nitish are the two chief ministers whom Anna singled out for admiration, though several others are doing equally well in the rural development sector. But the point worth noting is, why a man engaged in campaign for Jan Lokpal Bill and against corruption in high places suddenly chose to give certificates to chief ministers for their work in the rural development. After all he is no expert on the concept of rural development and he had conceded that he made the statement on the basis of newspaper reports.

If Anna chose to applaud Narendra Modi and Nitish for the good work in the rural development sector, by that logic, he should have appreciated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too as it is his government which came up with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, National Rural Health Mission, Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutkaran Yojana and several other such schemes.

In fact many of the chief ministers, including Modi and Nitish, are projecting themselves as the champions of the rural poor by just implementing these very centrally-sponsored schemes. Thanks to better media management by chief ministers, instead of Manmohan Singh, it is they who are walking away with all the credits.

If Anna is silent on Lokayukta issue in Gujarat and Bihar he is constantly criticizing the UPA for its Lokpal Bill and putting pressure on it to accept Jan Lokpal Bill. Incidentally, he is in all praise for B C Khanduri [an ex-serviceman like him] for coming up with a very effective Lokayukta in his state within two months of becoming the chief minister of Uttarakhand.