Strongly condemning the arrest of social activist Anna Hazare in New Delhi on Tuesday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal said the Centre's action smacked of “dictatorial tendencies,” trying as it did to throttle the people's right to speak out against any issue.

Demanding a “strong Jan Lokpal Bill” that would have the office of Prime Minister within its ambit, the party also insisted on instituting a “stronger Lokayukta” in the States, on the lines of the Lokpal, which would have the office of Chief Minister in its purview.

The party also announced that rallies, processions and demonstrations would be organised across the State on Wednesday in protest against the United Progressive Alliance government's crackdown on Anna Hazare and the people's fight against rampant corruption in government.

“The issue is not limited to Anna Hazare any more. The UPA government, which is neck-deep in corruption, is frantically trying to shield its Ministers by refusing to table a strong Lokpal Bill… The concern now is whether our freedom of expression and rights to protest will be curtailed by the Centre. The Prime Minister is patronising corruption and is getting so desperate because the stakes are very high,” senior Central Committee member Md. Salim said at a press conference here.

Alleging that the UPA government's neo-liberal economic policies were “crushing the common man on both ends” in the form of a steep increase in the prices of essential commodities and widespread corruption, Mr. Salim accused the Centre of targeting those who were speaking out against corruption and black money in foreign banks instead of acting against the scourges.

Mr. Salim alleged that the Trinamool Congress-led government in West Bengal too was gradually trying to stifle the voices of the Opposition.