NEW DELHI, APR 9 : Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi has compared the massive outpouring of public support for Anna Hazare’s anti-graft crusade to the bursting of a pressure cooker. He said the poll panel was trying to prevent corrupt practices in elections through electoral reforms.
Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Vinod Rai said the people should take upon themselves the task of cleansing the system as the government “had failed to fight graft”.
“It is unfortunate. It was avoidable,” Quraishi said Friday evening referring to the public concern over corruption during a panel discussion at the annual conference of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.
Referring to the groundswell of support for Hazare, Quraishi compared it the bursting of a pressure cooker. “There is a safety-valve in a pressure cooker to prevent bursting and breaking. But when the valve does not function, the cooker breaks,” he said. He said prevention of corrupt practices was always better than curing. “That is what we are trying to do through electoral reforms,” the CEC added.
CAG Vinod Rai said: “We can no longer afford to deceive ourselves that it is the duty of the government of the day to fight corruption and indeed see them fail.”
Calling for a “paradigm shift” from the “old model”, Rai said: “That model has failed. It will not deliver by itself, unless you and me make it deliver.”
Regarding Hazare’s protest, Rai said: “The idea of bringing civil society to the fore, the time has come to ensure that you motivate and make its voice credible so that it is heard.”
About Hazare, Rai said: “He is a crusader, an activist. This is the way he protests. An activist by definition, is an adversarial, anti-establishment.”
“Public opinion can be shaped by civil society organisations and projected by the media. Civil society groups can be instrumental in raising the awareness of citizens and mobilising them in promoting public accountability.”
He suggested that the “theory of silent majority” should be discarded. The “silent majority” has been able to assert as was evident in the public interest litigations in the 2G spectrum allocation case, in the cases of Jessica Lal murder, and the cancellation of the appointment of a central vigilance commissioner.
Referring to the recent statement of Home Minister P. Chidambaram that there was a “ethics deficit in governance”, Rai said “such statements explain the state of affairs of the country”.
Asking the corporates also to do soul-searching, Rai said: “Business practices of some corporate houses have become the subject of increasing public scrutiny for their perceived ethical deficit. Corporate India needs to go through a phase of reflection and soul-searching.”
Without naming Nitin Gadkari, Rai had a dig at the BJP president for justifying the allotment of housing plots by Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to his kin and kith. “A party president says the act was not illegal, but only immoral.”
“Does it mean that immoral acts can be done if one does not fear a term in jail?” he asked.