The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday said the Manmohan Singh government should “bow to public pressure” and bring in a modified or fresh Lokpal Bill, since large sections of the people had rejected the existing Bill and it was unacceptable to the Left parties also.

“At present, however, the fight against corruption can be taken forward only when a strong Lokpal authority is constituted. The government Lokpal Bill has been rejected by large sections of people; it is not acceptable to the Left parties and most of the Opposition parties. In such a situation, there is no way for the government but to bring a modified or fresh Bill which can pave the way for an effective Lokpal,” CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said in an article in the latest edition of the party organ People's Democracy.

A day ahead of an all-party meeting, Mr. Karat said the CPI(M) and the Left would continue to campaign for a set of measures to tackle corruption that had grown “exponentially” since the advent of liberalisation two decades ago. Besides a strong Lokpal, the steps include setting up a National Judicial Commission for appointment of judges and a body to go into charges of corruption.

Referring to Anna Hazare's fast, he said the agitation found support predominantly from the urban middle classes and a substantial section of youth belonging to this strata.

Pointing out a paradox, he said many of those supporting the Hazare-led movement were also supporters of liberalisation policies and reforms ushered in by the Manmohan Singh government. And now, plagued with corruption, they wanted a messiah to get rid of graft that affected their daily life. “They would like corruption to end while maintaining the economic regime, which has conferred benefits on them. Hence they are unable to see the organic link between neo-liberal policies and the corruption that they have engendered.”

Acknowledging that the movement against corruption has gained momentum since the first fast by Mr. Hazare in April, Mr. Karat said the attitude of the UPA government and its failure to tackle corruption fuelled widespread anger.

“This has been the most corrupt government in the history of independent India. The paradox of a ‘clean Prime Minister' heading such a government has sunk into the consciousness of the urban middle classes. This is the very constituency which had been singing the praises of Manmohan Singh — a reformer who was clean and whose integrity was unquestioned,” the article said.

He said whether it was the 2G spectrum allocation or the Commonwealth Games scam, it was the agencies external to the government — the Supreme Court or the Comptroller and Auditor General — which spurred the Central Bureau of Investigation into probing and prosecuting the guilty.

The Lokpal Bill moved by the government sought only to carry on with the earlier arrangement of vigilance and investigation agencies.“The Lokpal set up by this Bill would be ineffective and unable to independently act against the higher echelons in the government, or, the big business-ruling politician-bureaucratic nexus,” Mr. Karat said.

Politics and business

Mr. Karat said that since the advent of liberalisation and neo-liberal policies, there had been an exponential rise in corruption.

“Much of this corruption stems from the big business-ruling politician-bureaucratic nexus. We have seen how, in the seven years of the UPA government and the earlier six years of the NDA, policy making has been suborned to serve the interests of big business; how privatisation and the loot of natural resources are facilitated by this nexus in operation; how the UPA government panders to big business, by putting in place policies and mechanisms to facilitate the transfer of resources to business barons.”