BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
Kolkata: CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should own up responsibility for presiding over the “most corrupt regime since Independence” but stopped short of demanding the “honourable man’s” resignation.
Addressing reporters after the end of a three-day politburo and central committee meeting, Karat said: “Whether it is the 2G spectrum or the KG basin contract (to Reliance Industries)… or the appointment of Suresh Kalmadi as chairperson of the CWG organising committee, the role of the Prime Minister is questionable. The Prime Minister was fully aware of the developments but did not stop the wrong-doings. The Prime Minister has to own (up) responsibility for presiding over this corrupt regime… the most corrupt since Independence.”
But Karat added that the party was not “talking about his resignation”. “However, we are not talking about his resignation. But he cannot avoid the responsibility of leading a team that has several corrupt people,” the CPM leader said.
Asked whether he was questioning the personal integrity of the Prime Minister, the CPM general secretary said: “That’s not the matter here… the issue is not that. He is an honourable man. But the point is… if you are leading a team of pilferers and pickpockets, then you are responsible. The Prime Minister is the head of the government… he is responsible as he presides over the cabinet.”
Karat claimed that his party had written to Singh in February and November 2008 about its apprehensions regarding 2G spectrum allocation and had urged him to take steps to prevent irregularities.
“However, the Prime Minister did not intervene… nothing was done despite six letters sent to him by our MPs. Sitaram Yechury had also written a letter to him. We are aware of the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the jailed former telecom minister, A. Raja. So, I repeat that the Prime Minister’s role is questionable,’’ he said.
Asked whether corruption in the UPA II government is on a bigger scale than that when Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao were in power, Karat said: “It’s like exponential growth. The UPA II government has beaten all records.”
The CPM central committee deliberated if the Prime Minister had a role in the scams and decided that campaigns and demonstrations should be conducted vigorously across the country to highlight the “corrupt” practices of the UPA II government.
A CPM central committee member said: “We felt that the need of the hour is to target the Congress as the UPA II government is steeped in corruption. We will organise a march to Parliament on August 25. Targeting the Congress will help us point fingers at its Bengal ally, the Trinamul Congress.”
The draft land acquisition and rehabilitation bill came up for discussion at today’s meeting. Party leaders welcomed the comprehensive bill and underscored the need for scrapping the 1894 acquisition act which, according to Karat, was “archaic”.
Some CPM leaders from Bengal insisted on launching a movement against Trinamul’s alleged move to evict pattadars (those who have got land pattas) and bargadars (share croppers) across the state.
The CPM has decided to hold its 20th party congress at Kozhikode in northern Kerala from April 4 to April 9 next year. The state-wise number of delegates has also been decided upon, Karat said.
The venue was decided at the June 10-12 politburo and central committee meeting in Hyderabad but the date was finalised at the Calcutta meeting that ended today.