Communist Party of India (CPI) national secretary D. Raja on Sunday came down heavily on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for supporting the Chhattisgarh government in forming the vigilante group, Salwa Judum, for tackling the Naxalite movement. He termed such a force a threat to democratic politics.

Addressing journalists here, Mr. Raja criticised the Centre for filing a review petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a review of its order declaring the appointment of tribal youths as Special Police Officers/Salwa Judum by the Chhattisgarh government to counter Maoist violence as illegal and unconstitutional.

“We do not agree with the UPA government, particularly with Home Minister P. Chidambaram,” he said. The government should not encourage such a force; Left wing extremism had to be fought politically and ideologically. The UPA government should rework its strategy in countering Naxalism, he said.

Mr. Raja, who, in a letter to the Prime Minister, had opposed appointment of the Salwa Judum, said the State government was unleashing power against tribal people by appointing the force. “The strategy is totally defective.”

Even as the Supreme Court declared the force “illegal,” Mr. Raja said that in its review petition the Central government described the Salwa Judum as “a movement started by the local people as a revolt against excesses and torture by the Naxalites.”

Corruption

Noting that corruption could not be eliminated by constituting of a Lokpal alone, he suggested that a comprehensive package of measures, including electoral reforms and constitution of a national judicial commission for appointment of judges, was needed to wipe out corruption. The CPI was in favour of a strong Lokpal and inclusion of Prime Minister within the Lokpal's ambit. “However, Anna Hazare's movement for electoral reforms and recalling of MPs seem to be impractical now.”

Referring to black money stashed away in Swiss banks, Mr. Raja said the Centre should seek a list of persons who kept money abroad. The U.S. and European governments had obtained the list from the Swiss government officials. “The UPA government should also seek the list and bring back the black money belonging to the country and the people.”

The CPI leader said both BJP and the Congress had been thoroughly exposed on the corruption issue. National BJP leaders had “closed their eyes” with regard to illegal mining and corruption in BJP-ruled States. The central leaders of the BJP allowed illegal mining in Karnataka and a large extent of illegal mining could have been prevented if action was taken earlier against the former Minister, G. Janardhana Reddy.

Asked about the proposed Communal Violence Bill, Mr. Raja said “we need the Bill but it should not go against the spirit of federalism.” The Bill was in the public domain for sometime now and the law should not infringe on the rights of the State governments, he said.

The CPI leader also demanded that the UPA government undertake mid-term review of its economic policies in view of the declining farm production, slowdown in the manufacturing sector, rising prices of essential commodities and increasing unemployment. The CPI leader opposed foreign direct investment in insurance, retail and other government sectors on the PPP model.