(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 27, 2008
Countrywide Movement against price rise
THE mercury touches 42+ degrees Celsius in the shade. The concrete, steel, and, fibre glass cities approach a meltdown. The metropolis finds its busy thoroughfares dominated by motorised transport – engines labouring – and the few pedestrians who are out for a living braving the scorch of the fiery sun pouring heat from an azure blue sky overhead, are never without the ubiquitous umbrella over the heads, walking close to the walls to avail themselves of the strips of shades afforded by the cornices of the street-side buildings. The anti-price rise demonstrations, the marches, the conventions, the open air rallies, the house-to-house campaign, go on relentlessly all over Bengal.
Kolkata saw a big ‘day-night’ sit-in demonstration participated in by the Left Front and Left mass organisations. Held in downtown Kolkata at the Rashmoni Avenue, the demonstration was marked by addresses by Left Front and CPI(M) leaders, with plenty of songs, dances, recitations, mime, and impromptu plays in between, keeping the big gathering engrossed in the proceedings.
State committee member of the Bengal CPI(M), and a veteran TU activist, Niranjan Chatterjee who generally looks after the gathering in the Esplanade area, tells us how nobody sleeps even as the nightfall brings in the cool slumber-friendly southerly breeze all the way from the Bay – ‘it is a vigil, comrade, and sleeping is not part of the agenda of the demonstrations.’
Biman Basu, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) and Bengal Left Front chairman, comes in at three in the afternoon on the first day of the demonstration, and outlines in brief the circumstance that has led to the already rising price levels to take a sharp and graphic turn for the worst. The anti-people trend was started during the NDA-led central government, a government in which the Trinamul Congress was a participant. It was then that the essential commodities act was made toothless.
Since then, the successive governments would not bother to look into the massive growth in hoarding and blackmarketeering — all in the name and style of such sophistries as ‘futures trade,’ and ‘forward trading.’ Biman Basu called upon the present union government to undo the dilution of the essential commodities act and empower the state governments to take action against hoarders/blackmarketeers.
Biman Basu declared that the amended act must again include the 15 essential commodities that must be supplied nationwide through the public distribution system, and big traders kept away from the ambit of the supply process. With the UPA government apparently unwilling to heed the deputations and demonstrations held all over the country including the capital and not forgetting the Bengal Left Front’s deputation to the prime minister with a ten-point charter, it is now emergent that the anti-price rise movement be made to fulminate in waves across the country – at every rural and urban area till the union government bows to the wishes of the mass of the people. This will be a joint programme under the aegis of the Left and the UNPA. He concluded by assuring the gathering that the statewide movement against the rise in the prices of common consumption would continue in different forms and phases.
Other speakers who addressed the gathering were CPI(M)’s Banani Biswas, Dipak Dasgupta, Forward Bloc’s Moin-ud din Shams, CPI’s Prabir Deb, RSP’s Manoj Bhattacharya, and other LF leaders.
AS part of the week long all India agitation against spiraling prices of essential commodities by the Left and UNPA parties, a rail roko agitation was conducted in Bihar on April 23. Many trains were stopped across the state for one hour between 10 and 11 a.m.
At Patna, state leaders of CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc, SP gathered near Rajendra Nagar roundabout and marched in a procession to the nearby Rajendra Nagar railway station. Hundreds of workers and cadres of the Left parties with Red flags and banners raising slogans against the back-breaking price rise, squatted on the railway tracks for an hour and stopped Mumbai bound Rajendra Nagar –Lokmanya Tilak Express and other local trains.
The GRP and RPF police, who were deployed in big numbers, arrested CPI(M) state secretariat member Sarangdhar Paswan along with several district level leaders and cadres of Left parties during the agitation. CPI(M) state secretariat members Arun Kumar Mishra and Ram Pari also participated in the programme.
Similar actions were held in Darbhanga, Samastipur, Madhubani, Khagaria, Saharsa, Bhojpur and Rohtas etc as per reports received at the time of writing this.
CPI(M) state committee has congratulated the common people of Bihar for participating in good numbers in the week long anti-price rise movement launched by the Left parties and UNPA. It vowed to further intensify the movement if the central UPA and state NDA governments do not bring down the rising prices.
In response to the call of the Left-UNPA for nationwide protest against spiralling price rise of essential commodities, a joint rally was brought out by the Left parties of Jharkhand – CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc, RSP and Marxist Coordination Committee – on April 23 originating from Albert Ekka Chowk going to governor’s house where it converted in mass meeting.
The meeting was addressed, among others, by Bhubaneshwar Prasad Mehta, MP, state secretary of CPI, J S Majumdar, state secretary of CPI(M), and Rajendra Singh Munda, state secretariat member of CPI(M) P K Ganguly, leader of CPI. Rajendra Yadav, leader of CPI, presided over the meeting.
Later, a delegation of leaders of these parties met the governor Syed Sibtey Razi and submitted a memorandum demanding from the central government to reverse the dilution of Essential Commodities Act done by the then Vajpayee government. The memorandum also demanded to universalise the public distribution system and supply of 25 essential commodities urgently through ration shops in sufficient quantity by central government. Steps must be taken to limit foodgrain stocks by conducting an effective de-hoarding drive.
The governor assured the delegation that he would take up the matter with the central government and also talk to the chief minister for holding an all party meeting on this issue.
In the light of prime minister’s reference to panchayat elections in the state during his visit to Jharkhand on April 22, the delegation discussed about pending panchayat election with the governor. He asked the delegation to submit a note urgently so that he could take up the matter with the state and central governments.
Another delegation, consisting of Sanjay Paswan, Prafull Linda and Sukhnath Lohra, submitted a memorandum to the chief minister at his residence demanding for holding urgently an all party meeting on the price rise issue and for discussing ways to strengthen the public distribution system in the state.
ON the call of Left Parties street corner meetings, dharnas, protests, demonstrations, court arrest and other such activities were conducted independently and jointly in various districts of Haryana by the party during the anti price rise week from 16 to 23rd April. In this context state secretariat of the party strongly criticised the object in action of the state government towards initiating steps for containing price rise of essential commodities. It should be noted that on the our hand the Congress led government at the centre has been asking the state governments to control inflation while on the other hand the Congress government in Haryana has shown no interest in this regard.
In this background abort a thousand persons courted arrest in Punjab when they were going to stop trains as declared when the police blocked the procession led by Com Surender Malik. The anti price rise dharnas and demonstrations were addressed by Inderjit Singh on April 23, in Fatehabad and Hisar. Protest actions were also organised at district headquarters in Jind, Sirsa, Sonepat, Bhiwani, Karnal and other places.