As usual the Congress spin masters are muddying pictures in the issue of the propriety of Bhushans continuing in the lokpal drafting committee. Sanjay Baru even tried to give an analogy of how Prashant Bhushan recused himself from a case in Gujarat when his bias was questioned. He asked why Prashant would not recuse himself in this case.
Their claim is that when aspersions have been cast on the integrity of these two people, they should step down. Now I am not one who has been entirely comfortable with both these folks being the in committee, but i think all this is a wrong argument.
A politician is rightly asked to step down, or a public figure is asked to recuse themselves when his ability to perform his duty is questioned. Personal integrity, while it should be, has never been a reason for politicians in India to resign. Otherwise, all the hundreds of chargesheeted and convicted representatives would not have been present in our parliament or legislative assemblies.
However, if a credible allegation is made against a political figure holding a public office, that he/she has abused their position or intentionally acted against the interest of the public or has a conflict of interest in that position, then it is a good reason for the person in question to step down.
Congress maintains that Shashi Tharoor resigned on mere allegation. He did it because he was supposed to have abused his minister post to ask for favor from Lalit Modi.
Congress maintains that Chavan resigned on allegation of the housing scam. Again, he had misused his position.
Prashant Bhushan has recused himself from the Gujarat case upon allegations of bias. Since that directly affects his role in the case, it was proper for him to recuse himself, and he did.
However, shady CDs about Shanti Bhushan’s chat with shady politicians? Allegations of favoritism in land allotments in UP? How are these allegations in any way relevant to Bhushan’s position in a drafting committee of a bill which doesn’t cover non-politicians?
In any case, public memory being short, I am surprised that no one yet has brought up the credentials of the government presentatives in the panel to question. Kapil Sibal got a lot of notoriety by dismissing the entire 2G scam as a non-issue with the losses being merely notional. Today his predeccesor is in jail for this notional crime. So it is sure that the judicial system doesn’t agree with him, and he is clearly trying to protect the corrupt.
Pranab Mukherjee a few years ago was embroiled in the rice scam where he pushed to export rice in spite of there being a ban on the same. The decision of the Group of ministers that he was heading was opposed at the time by none other than Chidambaram and Sharad Pawar himself.
These are far more relevant and serious charges. There is a serious conflict of interest here, as these same people are drafting a bill which would have institutions hopefully take suo moto recognition of such offenses and investigate them.