Days ago millions across India were shocked to read that our anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare was backing down on key demands of the Jan Lokpal Bill. But the reports were false. Who spread them? A Minister on the bill drafting committee.
Today the press is full of new allegations against other civil society representatives on the Committee. We knew that those in power would do anything to stall and derail the Jan Lokpal Bill. Now they have put their media-spin machine into full-swing to smear our leaders, divide the movement and distract us from the promise to clean up corruption, even before the Committee has started drafting. But we cannot let their dirty tactics work. Our only chance of getting a strong Jan Lokpal is if we stand together and step up to every attempt to demotivate our movement.
Let’s join together now in a massive call for PM Singh to reign in the defamation campaign, identify those Ministers that are spreading slander and set an example by kicking them off the drafting committee before the next meeting on May 2nd. We’ll send a powerful signal that we have a zero tolerance for age old dirty tricks. When the petition reaches 100,000 we’ll cover Delhi with mobile billboards with our call for action and follow PM Singh around until the Lokpal process is cleaned up:
Earlier this week, an anonymous Minister sent key journalists an SMS saying civil society representatives were caving to government pressure. The SMS said: “Civil Society members have Diluted their own draft a lot. It is now a far more doable draft than earlier. They have diluted the provision that Cabinet Ministers could be suspended. Judges cud be suspended. Also does not mention the Lokpal having powers of Appointing and Disciplinary Authority.” None of this was true — the sms was a trap for the media to run a story that would sow doubt across the nation, and pull our movement apart.
Then, an audio CD was anonymously delivered to the media that allegedly records Shanti Bhushan, the civil society co-chair of the drafting committee, bribing judges to influence decisions. The Bhushans quickly proved through an independent lab that the CD was doctored, but today the government laboratory has issued a report that disagrees, claiming it needs more material for a conclusive finding.
Only an independent investigation with adequate evidence can make a judgment on the CD story. But what is already clear is that the government has used spurious sources, deception and inconclusive evidence to wage war in the media to create a storm of public confusion.
Let us have no doubt the Jan Lokpal Bill is a serious threat to high up officials and politicians who are used to the shroud of impunity. For 42 years governments have found ways to bury it, and this smear campaign is not a surprise. But this is our Bill and if we are vigilant and stick together with one voice over the next few months, we have a unique chance to truly take on corruption.
Let’s tell the government that we condemn the smear tactics and are not distracted by conspiracy and doubt. Sign the petition to stop the slander and start the clean up:
“Divide and Rule” is how the British kept us slaves for 200 years and that is exactly what the Government is doing now.As we come together to free ourselves from the deception and impunity that handicap our great nation, let’s demand that our political and civil society leaders act as the exemplars they should be, and start work to get a strong Jan Lokpal Bill to rid India of the scourge of corruption.
With hope and determination,
Ricken, Saloni, Shibayan, Ben, Alice and the whole Avaaz team.