New Delhi: True to the phrase ‘there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics‘, the Congress has turned for advice to activist–lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had taken on the UPA government over the 2G and coal ‘scams’.
The Supreme Court lawyer has, of late, been meeting Congress leaders to share his inputs on the party’s manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, ThePrint has learnt.
‘Reclaming the Republic’
The activist-lawyer has been seen sharing the dais with Congress leaders at some party events too — the latest being the one organised by the All India Professional Congress in New Delhi last week where Bhushan shared the dais with former Union ministers Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari.
According to Congress leaders, a delegation of civil society activists, including Prashant Bhushan and Anjali Bhardwaj, met professor Rajeev Gowda, convener of the party’s manifesto committee on Tuesday, 20 February. They added that the delegation presented to the Congress a document called ‘Reclaiming the Republic‘ that contains a wide–ranging set of agendas it wants included in the party’s poll manifesto.
On the list of suggestions is a recommendation for the enactment of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law and the constitution of an equal opportunity commission to oversee its implementation — covering all vulnerable groups.
“Prevent rising crimes against religious minorities and disadvantaged castes by creating criminal culpability of public officials with command responsibility, who fail to prevent hate violence (on the lines of the recent Manipur law on lynching, the first in the country),” one of the suggestions reads.
It also suggests establishing ‘an independent commission for looking into systemic injustice meted out to innocent Muslims incarcerated for long years under terror laws, and other such injustices‘.
Yet another suggestion is on amending the rules regarding the use of EVMs to provide for the compulsory use of VVPAT-enabled EVMs and tallying with VVPAT slips before the declaration of results.
On the question of the party accepting the suggestions made by Bhushan and Bhardwaj, a Congress leader said, “They met us and gave us their suggestions. We have consultations at various levels and everyone is welcome to give their suggestions. The final decision on what will be approved rests with the Congress Working Committee.“
ThePrint reached Prashant Bhushan through phone calls and messages but he is yet to respond. This report will be updated when he does.
Prashant Bhushan versus Congress
In 2012, Prashant Bhushan had trained his guns at then prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband, businessman Robert Vadra.
Bhushan had criticised Singh for his government‘s alleged corruption: “The Congress is using the PM as a shield like ‘Shikhandi’. They say he is clean, so his Cabinet must be clean. Why is the PM allowing himself to be used like ‘Shikhandi’ in this manner.“
At a press conference, Bhushan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had accused Vadra, who is also Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, of getting favours from realty major DLF.
Things have done a 180–degree turn since then as the Congress and its erstwhile tormentors are cosying up today in a bid to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power.
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