Below are some excerpts and video of the wonderful speech made by Arun Jaitley of BJP in the parliament (in Rajya Sabha) in response to Manmohan Singh’s statement regarding the arrest of Anna Hazare and about the government views on the Anti Corruption Movement.
Manmohan Singh was trying to convert the anti-corruption movement issue into a civil society vs parliament confrontation. The opposition as articulated by Arun Jaitley simply refused to buy this argument. Excerpts below from Arun Jaitley’s speech. I also strongly recommend that you watch the full video of the speech below.
The truth is that India today is exasperated with corruption;
When the Prime Minister says he has no magic wand, you don’t need a magic wand, you don’t need magics in order to fight corruption. All you need, Mr. Prime Minister is, a political will.
Political spokesmen (of Congress) are being used literally as hit men. That is the new role that they have to adopt.
Power is not immortal. The more arrogant you are, the earlier it disappears.
They (Civil Society) are not saying that they will substitute this Parliament and draft laws All that they are saying and we (the opposition) are saying and we are we are reaffirming is, they have a right to put their point of view across.
Members of civil society or any citizens’ group or any citizen of this country has a right to campaign for his views. He (Anna Hazare) has a right to crusade for his views. We are entitled to tell him how much we agree with him and how much we cannot accommodate his views.
Has this Government lost all sense of statecraft how political agitations are to be dealt with?
Don’t tell us that Delhi has shrunk so much that there is no place in Delhi where we cannot effectively seat them for their protest or their sit-down or their dharna or their fast.
Do you even recollect any illustration from the British regime where these kinds of restrictions were being imposed on the freedom fighters and Gandhiji?
If the Government of the day becomes so dictatorial, so oppressive, then, a citizens’ group may well say that it is willing to offer satyagraha and even go to prison.
Till the very end, we (the opposition) will uphold that right of peaceful protest that they have.
You (Prime Minister) have given a statement that it is not the crushing of their right of peaceful protest that the Government is doing, but it is a great ideological debate between the Parliament and the civil society. We refuse to accept that as the agenda.
If anybody violates the law, invoke your police powers. But don’t invoke them against peaceful protestors because, then, you will be threatening the right of dissent which is the very essence of Indian democracy
I am left wondering as to who really runs this country and who rules this country. You have a serious political issue which is being debated for the last few months, which climaxed in the last few days, and now we find that the political leadership of this country is really hiding behind the men in uniform and tells India’s Parliament and India’s people that this entire crisis was being handled by some policemen and all the political issues which arise and the solutions which are being sought, the solution to them was that the police decided to invoke provisions of sections 151 and 107 of CrPC and thereafter the law started taking its own course.
On the Independence Day, the most defining moment was not the Prime Minister of India unfurling the National Flag at the Red Fort but in the evening when the news spread that Shri Anna Hazare had gone and sat at the Rajghat, thousands of people, not brought by buses, voluntarily started arriving there in order to show solidarity and support.
You had some of the most monumental scams in history which have taken place in the last few years. All we got was the routine phrase and the routine templates that this Government will have a zero tolerance level to corruption, this Government will now allow investigative agencies a free hand. But repeatedly, when the 2G scam took place, we were repeatedly told that there is nothing of a scam in it.
You (the government) were coerced by courts; you were compelled by the courts and by the course of public opinion and the Opposition in Parliament to start taking action against those who were responsible for all these scams.
You pick up those crusading for probity in public life and unleash a series of political abuses on them. You start making allegations against them. Is that the level to which you have brought the level of political debate in this country?
Then you stand up and cry before five editors with a sense of helplessness and say, ‘These are compulsions of political alliances and coalitions that I am unable to take action.’ Is that the answer that you have to political corruption?’
You (The Government) have first involved them (Civil Society) in the Drafting Committee and you try and lead them up the garden path. Even when they ask you to involve the Opposition in the drafting process, your smugness persuades you. Your arrogance persuades to say that Opposition is not required at this moment. After leading them up the garden path, you find a stalemate with them. Then, you come up with a Bill, a Bill which almost provides for a Government-controlled Lokpal. The appointment process of that Lokpal is really gives an edge to the Government of the day to appoint that Lokpal.
For holding a protest, Dharna or fast, when is it that the regime of the day says that I will impose 22 conditions on this protest. My conditions include, whether your members will come by car or they will walk, how many cars they can park there. My conditions include, whether you put up Shamianas or were you have to put up Shamianas. My conditions include, what should be the size of protest. The Government of the day, against whom the protest is being organized, will decide as to whether the people are entitled to a large protest or only a miniscule protest.
Is the Congress Party willing to give an undertaking to this country that it will never organize a protest of more than 5,000 people? Are you willing to abide by each of these conditions that you have imposed on Anna Hazare and his people?
Your people (Congress) can go and break Section 144 in the adjoining State of Uttar Pradesh and you say that right to protest is my Fundamental Right! But, when it comes to Delhi, you adopt an alternative argument.
The power to impose conditions on a protest can legitimately be: Don’t indulge in violence and don’t disrupt public order. But, you cannot impose such unreasonable conditions which render a protest redundant; you can’t impose conditions that effectively take away the right of an effective protest.
I think, this is a problem with all the Governments which have too many lawyers advising the Government.
How can you rake up a plea today that there should be no participation outside Parliament of anyone outside Parliament in the drafting of the laws? What is the National Advisory Committee? It is a group of citizens. You are using them effectively to draft your laws. Your Ministers even don’t have the courage to start opposing the laws that they are drafting. So, if another group of citizen says, “It has a view point and please consider it; it wants to campaign, crusade”, they are not replacing Parliament.
If a group of citizens says that it has an alternate view, we may not eventually accept what they say, we may accept some suggestions of what they say. But how can you take away and snatch their right to say?
You (the Government) brought in a Bill that does not satisfy anyone. When they (Civil Society) chose to protest, you made them run around for weeks from one office to another as to whether they can get a permission to sit on a fast or not. Then, eventually, you quietly went early morning and arrested them. You thought that all these people of India will take it lying down.
But by the evening you saw the enormity and the magnitude of the protests and, suddenly, you decided to make a statement. Therefore, you make a statement, which, at least, does not inspire confidence to me. We heard that he is moving to the court. Therefore, since he is moving to the court, we realise that he has become very law-abiding. Therefore, since he has now become law-abiding, we went and tried to release him.
And the text of your statement is, ‘Can I somehow make it a confrontation between the Parliament and the Civil Society?’ Well, we (the opposition) are refusing to bite this bait. This is not a confrontation between the civil society and India’s Parliament. We are clear in India’s Parliament that Parliament alone will draft the law. But if citizens’ group wants to tell us something, we will listen to them.