NAC member regrets hurdles, betrayals for food security bill

New Delhi: The way the food security bill faced "hurdles and betrayals" can also be termed as an instance of corruption, National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy said on Friday and felt that it would have had a smoother journey if had it been a "pro-rich legislation".

Addressing a public convention against corruption here, the noted social activist also favoured a strong Lokpal Bill and said a "reasoned debate with open mind" is needed for it.

"I feel the way the food security bill faced hurdles and betrayals, it can also be called an instance of corruption. Pro-rich legislations and schemes have a smoother journey."

Roy said discussions have began on Lokpal Bill and she hopes for an effective law that will be able to fight "big crimes and big scams". But she cautioned that it should not "collapse under its own weight" and everyone should be ready to hear "different view points".

Roy said the way Lokpal drafting panel members Prashant and Shanti Bhushan were being attacked was "wrong". She also said it does not bother her much that there are "many voices" within the civil society as it is a country of over a billion.

Addressing the meet organised by Coalition of Democratic Movement, a number of activists backed Prashant Bhushan.

Bhushan said in last six months, the "corporate mafia" in the country faced reverses. "They are today in terror of what is going on and doing everything to strike back."

He said the present Lokpal Bill is "certainly not perfect" and will have to be improved in the next few months by public consultation. Bhsuan also said Lokpal is "essential but not sufficient measure" 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."

Writer-activist Arundhati Roy said that there is need for a strong Lokpal but it should not turn into a "unaccountable undemocratic institution".

She said during Anna Hazare's recent movement, corruption was only projected as a "moral issue and not a political one" and that the Gandhian leader, by lauding Narendra Modi's development model, raised a question whether the choice is between "incorruptible fascists and corrupt democracts".

"Will RTI or Lokpal help gather information about how governments transferred mineral resources to private corporations for a pittance," she asked.

Roy also said Bhushan represented mass movements for long and that he was facing a "vicious smear campaign" is proof of the threat he poses to some people.

JNU professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Chitraroopa Palit and lawyer SH Iyer were among other speakers.