Thiruvananthapuram: The move by the CPM-led Left Democratic Front Government to clip the powers of Lokayukta in Kerala has drawn widespread criticism. Interestingly, the move has been initiated by the same party that takes pride in establishing Lokayukta in Kerala, and decried that the Centre's Lokpal Act is not strong and effective enough.
Even the allies, including the CPI, are dissatisfied. The decision to promulgate an ordinance to dilute the powers of Lokayukta was taken reportedly without any consultation within the LDF.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan sought to justify the move by stating that some of the provisions of the Act, which was passed during the E K Nayanar government in 1998, were not in line with the fundamentals of the Constitution.
The CPM had demanded that the Lokpal Bill passed by the Centre should be strong and effective against corruption. In a note on the Lokpal Bill issued on August 25, 2011, the party had demanded that the Bill should contain provisions to not only curb the undue benefits doled out to the kin of those in power; but also to conduct a high-level probe into such actions, and that the minister should resign. And also the abuse of power for personal gains, nepotism and wielding influence should be regarded as corruption.
When the establishment of Lokayukta, as per the Lokpal Act, got delayed in Tamil Nadu, the then CPM Tamil Nadu secretary G Ramakrishnan had moved the court against this.
And now the CPM faces allegations of trying to dilute the Lokayukta powers in a pre-emptive bid to avoid the resignation of party’s Minister R Bindu.
Both the government and CPM defend the move by stating that Lokayukta in other states, which are ruled by the Congress and BJP, do not have such sweeping powers as in Kerala.
Move after verdict against Jaleel
It is clear that the steps that were set in motion after the Lokayukta's verdict against former Minister K T Jaleel during the tenure of the previous government has culminated in the decision to amend the Act.
The Left has criticised that the Centre is strategically making use of the restrictions on protests and agitations due to the Covid spread for enacting controversial laws and amendments. Now, the Left is at the receiving end of the same criticism.
At the national level, the Left has been rallying for stricter measures and laws to curb corruption among public servants. It is not for the first time that these slogans are put on the back-burner in the state where the same CPM's Polit buro member is the Chief Minister.