Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said here on Friday that the Lokpal Bill, adopted by the Union Cabinet, betrayed the Congress' commitment to introduce an effective Lokpal Bill in Parliament.

Inaugurating a public function to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of the late Communist leader and freedom fighter, C.H. Kanaran, Mr. Karat said the Bill was not going to serve the purpose of checking corruption. Terming it toothless, he said it had no powers to book the corrupt.

“We want the Prime Minister to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal Bill,” he said and pointed out that four Lokpal Bills drafted during the tenures of non-Congress rule since 1989 had not exempted Prime Minister.

Different stand

The Congress was taking a different stand when the post was being occupied by one of its leaders. It had now reversed its stand taken in 1989 and 2001 in favour of inclusion of Prime Minister in the Lokpal.

Referring to the argument that the inclusion of Prime Minister would affect the stability of the country, Mr. Karat said that when Prime Minister could be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the exclusion of the post from the ambit of the Lokpal Bill did not make any sense. The present Bill says that Prime Minister could be prosecuted only after he or she demitted office.

Bogus argument

Mr. Karat announced that Left parties would step up their agitation demanding an effective Lokpal Bill. Terming protests against the Bill a challenge to Parliament's powers was a bogus argument.

Every citizen of the country had every right to oppose any Bill before Parliament. Parliamentary democracy did not mean that no one could protest against Parliament's decisions, he said.

Facilitating loot

Attributing the root cause of high-level corruption in the country to the neo-liberal policies of various regimes, Mr. Karat said the governments were facilitating loot of public resources by big business houses and corporates.

The fight against corruption required an end to the situation where government policies benefited these sections. If the Left had fought in the 1930s to see India as a sovereign country, today, under the neo-liberal policies, the country's sovereignty was being compromised. The Centre had given up the idea of an independent foreign policy.

As a result of 20 years of neo-liberal policies, the country's public resources, including agricultural land, were being grabbed by corporate houses. The employment rate had drastically come down since the implementation of these policies.

Impact

The concentration of wealth in the hands of a few had its impact on various sectors, including health and education, he pointed out.

The fight against corruption should bring about effective measures and laws, including electoral reforms and a separate law to constitute a judicial commission to check corruption in the judiciary.

Left has clean record

It was only the Left which had a clean record and had an alternative vision, he claimed.

All the aims and values that the Left had stood for were sought to be reversed by the neo-liberal dispensations. In the 1930s, leaders such as Kanaran were mobilising workers and peasants for fighting old-style landlordism, but today, the very process of land reforms was sought to be undermined. Vast stretches of agricultural land were being acquired at a rapid pace.

Even the Supreme Court, in a recent judgment, had said that the loot of public resources was the outcome of neo-liberal policies.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Communist Party of India State secretary C.K. Chandrappan also spoke.

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