PMO's response to allegations not credible, says Prakash Karat; it caused big privates profits, loss to government

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has demanded a CBI probe into the process of allocation of coal blocks to various companies and fix the responsibility of those involved.

Briefing reporters here on Monday on the issues discussed at the two-day Central Committee meetings, party general secretary Prakash Karat said the response of the Prime Minister's Office to the allegations on the allocation was “not credible.”

“According to reports, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found the process of allocation of coal blocks to various companies faulty. This has resulted in huge profits for the private parties and massive loss of revenue to the government,” Mr. Karat said.

As in spectrum allocation, there was corruption and scarce resources were deliberately handed over to private companies. “We cannot buy arguments by the PMO giving rationale behind the allocations,” he said. The Central Committee demanded a thorough investigation by the CBI into the matter and fix the responsibility of those involved.

The PMO had written to social activist Anna Hazare, rejecting his team's demand for setting up a special investigation team to probe Dr. Singh and other Ministers and setting up special fast track courts for trying MPs accused of corruption.

The Central Vigilance Commissioner had referred the matter to the CBI for investigation.

Strongly opposing moves to push through more neo-liberal measures, the Central Committee condemned the move to open up foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

“The party, along with other left and democratic forces, will conduct a widespread movement to block any such move. We call upon all Opposition parties in Parliament to oppose legislations that seek to increase the FDI limit in banking and insurance sectors and the Pension Bill, which is meant to privatise pension funds,” Mr. Karat said.

Economic slowdown

The Central Committee expressed concern at the economic slowdown the country is facing. “The GDP growth rate declined to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12 and there is a slowdown in industrial production. The trade deficit is widening in the backdrop of the slowdown in exports. The Indian rupee has depreciated to over Rs. 55 per dollar and this is all adding to the suffering of people,” he said.

The ruling establishment and the corporate media were portraying this deterioration as a failure to push through neo-liberal reforms. “This is a travesty of facts and a wrong analysis of the situation as the present crisis in the Eurozone countries is a result of neo-liberal economic policies,” Mr. Karat said.

‘Beware U.S. designs

On United States Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's recent visit to New Delhi, Mr. Karat said the United Progressive Alliance should realise the dangers of involving itself in a strategic alliance with the U.S. and firmly turn down any “pivotal” role in the American strategic designs in Asia.

“The UPA government should not fall in line with the U.S.-Nato and the Gulf states on the developments in Syria. The government should not become party to moves [that seek] to stoke civil war conditions and destabilise Syria,” Mr. Karat said.

“In the words of Mr. Panetta, India should be a ‘lynchpin' in the U.S. strategy in Asia. Earlier, they used the term ‘mob.' We have been upgraded. I hope the ruling establishment is not flattered by this upgrade,” Mr. Karat said.

The CPI(M) strongly criticised the UPA government's steps to curtail oil purchases from Iran. This was being done under pressure from the U.S. and it went against the vital interest of the country with regard to energy security, the Central Committee said.

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