The CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharya has taken a nuanced position on the three demands of Anna Hazare in the Lok Sabha debate today. Acharya was the first speaker from the left parties to speak on the matter.
He dismissed the Government’s version of the Lokpal bill, calling it useless, but refused to fully support the demand to put the entire bureaucracy under the Lokpal.
He said, instead of direct oversight and control over anti-corruption investigations against low-level officials, it was better for Lokpal to have ‘supervisory’ powers. The actual investigations can continue to be conducted by the vigilance departments of state governments, as is being done now.
“If the entire bureaucracy is brought under Lokpal, it will be unweildy. Thousands of complaints are recieved every day. There should be a separate machinery to recieve complaints,” he said.
This is the first time the CPIM has spelt out its stand on the Lokpal so clearly. The lack of full support for Anna’s cause is likely to disappoint some among the protesters, as the Left was seen as a strong ally of the movement.
Acharya, however, wanted to strengthen the hand of Lokpal in other ways. He said that if a government official was found to be indulging in corrupt activity in collusion with a company, the Lokpal must also have the right to punish the corporate body as well, and not just the official.
“There is a need to break the corporates and corrupt politicians and bureaucracy,” he said.
On the issue of instituting a citizen’s charter and grievance mechanism, he repeated his objection that it cannot all be handled by the Lokpal or Lakayukt (at the state level) due to the enormous number of bureaucrats. He wanted a separate agency and a separate law to address the issue of grievances.