Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, a known fighter against communalism and corruption, gives full credit to the RTI Act brought by the Manmohan Singh government for more exposes on corruption. He feels that the Lokpal Bill alone would not be able to check graft and new variety of measures, especially the five-point plan unveiled by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for transparency in governance.
Mr Gehlot, who is already implementing RTI before it was enacted at the national level, now wants to go a step further in the campaign for clean government. He has decided to put on the website the details of assets of IAS and IPS officials.
In his last tenure as chief minister, Mr Gehlot had arrested Hindutva hardliner Praveen Togadia for distributing tridents for attempting to disturb communal harmony and peace in the state, a move that was appreciated nationwide and virtually led to the marginalisation of the VHP leader.
Talking to this newspaper, the Rajasthan chief minister said corruption cases would not have come to the fore had Mrs Gandhi pressed for the RTI Act. He said that the act has strengthened the voice of the aam aadmi, who is extracting information from the government like legislators and MPs are on the floor. He said he has relinquished discretionary powers of the CM and ministers in Rajasthan. He wants a nationwide debate on state funding of elections. “Legislation on the Lokpal might not prove effective to bring about the desired results against corruption if we go by the experience with the Lokayukta legislation,” he said.
Wondering why the product of the Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-corruption movement — Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav — are facing corruption charges, he said even JP himself wept once he realised what kind of leadership that had thrown in the country. Mr Anna Hazare’s campaign for the Lokpal Bill cannot check corruption unless it is fought on multiple levels.
Mrs Gandhi’s address at the 83rd AICC plenary held at Burari in Delhi in December last gave the action plan to fight against graft.
She wants systems that bring corruption cases to a closure in a defined timeframe. “This would bring the guilty to book quickly and clear those unfairly charged.” She saw merit in instituting a new system of fast-tracking all cases that concern corruption by public servants, including politicians, he said. She wanted “full transparency in public procurement and contract”. It is the duty of the administration to ensure that there is no subversion of the due process and should it come to pass, whistleblowers must be protected, he said. Mr Gehlot said his government is working on this line.
Mrs Gandhi wanted the Congress to engage with civil society and professional experts from different disciplines in a systematic manner.
“I do think it is now necessary to create a professional party thinktank to be run on institutional lines,” she had said. Asian Age