Addressing a convention organised by the Coalition of Democratic Movements, Aruna Roy, member National Advisory Council, said: ‘A strong Lokpal Bill is necessary and a reasoned debate in all dimensions should be welcomed with an open mind, so that the Bill which is tabled will be effective one to tab all the big scams and huge financial management in the country.’
Roy cautioned that the bill should not ‘collapse under its own weight’ and everyone should be ready to hear ‘different viewpoints’.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, a member of the joint committee for drafting a fresh Lokpal Bill, said: ‘The present Lokpal Bill is certainly not perfect and will have to be improved in the next few months by public consultation.’
He also said that the bill was essential but it had to be improved as it was not sufficient to take effective measures against corruption.
‘Policies like unchecked transfer of natural resources to private hands has created a corporate mafia and a huge incentive for corruption which will have to be tackled,’ Bhushan added.
Writer and activist Arundhati Roy said that there was a need for a strong Lokpal bill but it should not turn into an ‘unaccountable, undemocratic institution’.
Commenting on activist Anna Hazare-led movement on the legislation, she said: ‘It is a pot that is easy to make but much easier to break. Corruption was only projected as a moral issue and not a political one.’
She added that the Gandhian leader, by lauding Narendra Modi’s development model, raised a question whether the choice was between incorruptible fascists or corrupt democrats.
Participats at the convention condemned the campaign against social activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan and his father Shanti Bhushan.
Arundhati Roy backed Prashant Bhushan and said: ‘I have known Prashant for years. I would vouch for his integrity, anytime and anywhere.’
She said he represented mass movements for long and that he was facing a ‘vicious smear campaign’ was proof of the threat he posed to some people.
Aruna Roy said the attack on Prashant and Shanti Bhushan was ‘wrong’.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Chitraroopa Palit, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy and lawyer S.H. Iyer were among the other speakers.