(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 18, 2008
Nationwide Picketing Against Price Rise
LAKHS of people picketed central government offices across the country at the call of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau on May 15 venting their anger against price rise and asking the UPA government to take immediate steps to curb it. Only Bengal and Kerala were exempted for this programme due to ongoing elections.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) has congratulated all those who participated in this nationwide picketing programme.
At the time of going to press we received the following reports of action from the states:
FIFTY thousand people participated enthusiastically in the mass picketing programme organised by the Tamilnadu state unit of CPI(M). The picketing was conducted at 300 centres in the state. Party's state secretary N Varadarajan led the picketing at Dindigul alongwith three thousand people, including 700 women.
In Chennai central committee member and Rajya Sabha member T K Rengarajan led the people at Purasawalkam. Central committee members A K Padmanabhan, U Vasuki, and G Ramakrishnan have led the picketing programmes at various places in Chennai.
W R Varadarajan, central committee member, led the campaign at Trichy. Lok Sabha members P Mohan and A V Bellarmine led at Madurai and Marthandam respectively. In other centres, the picketing was led by party MLAs, state secretariat members and state committee members.
Several hundred activists of the Delhi state CPI(M) held a demonstration and courted arrest at Krishi Bhawan (headquarters of agricultural ministry) to protest against the sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities. Party Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe inaugurated.
In a protest meeting held prior to the court arrest, M K Pandhe lambasted the UPA government for refusing to take effective steps to curb runaway inflation that has made the lives of crores of people unbearable. He sharply criticised the government propaganda that inflation was a global phenomenon and hence outside its control. Other speakers included Party central committee member, Jogendra Sharma and Party state secretary, Pushpinder Grewal.
The speakers pointed out that the CPI(M) has repeatedly suggested several concrete and cogent steps for halting price rise. Those include, universalising PDS, restoring PDS foodgrain allocations which were cut to the states and bringing 15 essential commodities including pulses, edible oil, and sugar within the ambit of the PDS. Other measures suggested are curbing procurement of foodgrains by private companies and traders, banning futures trading in 25 agricultural commodities, reduction in prices of petrol and diesel through cutting customs and excise duties on them, taking stringent action against hoarders and strengthening the essential commodities act.
The UPA government, however, appears to be more interested in safeguarding the interests of hoarders and private companies rather than those of the suffering people. Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that those raising the issue of price rise are creating unnecessary panic and playing politics came in for special criticism. Such callous statements show how far removed from reality he and his party have become. The Congress has obviously learnt no lessons from its electoral defeats in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Gujarat. A similar fate awaits it elsewhere if it refuses to curb inflation.
The speakers called upon the rank and file of the Party to carry out a big campaign against price rise and the neo-liberal and anti-people economic policies in which this phenomenon is rooted.
around one lakh Party workers participated in different centres in Kerala. State secretary Pinaryi Vijayan inaugurated the picketing in Kannur at the Head Post office. He warned that the Party would intensify its agitation if the centre did not correct its mistakes. The CPI(M) leader also demanded reinstatement of the PDS quota of rice for Kerala. He charged that the food crisis in the state was due to the wrong policies of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which is trying to help those hoarding foodgrains.
LDF convenor Vaikkom Viswan courted arrest in Palakkad and CITU state secretary M M Lawrence in Ernakulam. Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzaha, Mallappuram, Kozihikode, Thrissur, Kasargode also witnessed pciketing programmes.
OBSERVING the nationwide protest on price rise, thousands of people picketed the central government offices in 57 locations spread across Tripura on May 15, 2008. Though area-wise number of arrested could not be collected till evening, the massive participation of the people everywhere indicates that no less than 1.5 lakh people were arrested in this movement against price rise.
Party Central Committee members Khagen Das and Rama Das led the movements in Agartala, and Ranirbazar respectively in West Tripura district. Another Central Committee member Bijan Dhar got arrested while leading the movement in Ambassa of Dhalai district. State secretariat members, Gautam Das, Narayan Kar, Niranjan Debbarma, Narayan Rupini participated in this movement in Agartala, Bishalgarh areas of West Tripura district. Following are the sub division wise number of locations where picketing was observed - Dharmanagar-3, Kanchanpur-5, Kailashahar-9, Longthorai Valley-3, Kamalpur-2, Gandachhara-1, Khowai-2, Sadar East-2, Sadar –1, Bishalgarh-4, Sonamura-4, Udaipur-10, Amarpur-4, Belonia-4 and Subroom-3. In every divisional committee area, Party state committee members and district committee leaders were in the forefront of the processions.
Earlier, intensive campaign against price rise was organised at panchayat level, village level in ADC areas, and municipality and nagar panchayat ward level in municipal and nagar Panchayat areas. The working people joined massively in this campaign because they were hardly hit by this unusual price rise.
In Agartala, about 15000 people picketed before the office of the All India Radio, Agartala Station. Khagen Das, Gautam Das, Sadar district secretary Samar Adhya, Agartala municipal council chairperson Sankar Das, women leader Krishna Rakshit, MLA and ex-minister Pranab Debbarma, courted arrest along with thousands of people in Agartala. Addressing the gathering Khagen Das lambasted the anti-people policies pursued by the central government and expressed deep annoyance that the 5-point demands put forward by the CPI(M) to arrest the spiraling prices of essential commodities and bring it back within the poor people’s reach, have been just ignored by the Congress-led UPA government at the centre. It is not unexpected that the outcry of the countrymen has fallen on a deaf ear because Congress is keen to serve the interests of the big bourgeoisie, foreign multinational companies and landlords. They are so committed to their class interest that even after electoral debacles in one after another states, they are not prepared to take lessons. If they themselves invite their doomsday, nobody can stand as their savior, Khagen Das remarked.
Gautam Das said price rise hits the poor, toiling people most. Introduction of some selected essential commodities through PDS is the only way to render relief to the poor people. He warned of far bigger movements in the days to come, if the situation was not corrected.
CPI(M) Tripura state secretariat congratulated the participants of the protest movement all over the state. It also deeply condoled the death of the victims of bus accident at Betaga of South Tripura. A bus carrying people who were to participate in picketing at Baikhora, met with an accident injuring fifty and killing two people. Party state secretary Baidyanath Majumder rushed to the G B Hospital to visit the injured.
THOUSANDS of people picketed the central government offices opposing the price rise in Andhra Pradesh. Picketing was held in eleven district headquarters i.e. Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Nellore Kurnool, Guntur, Tirupati, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Anantapuram, Warangal and Mahabubnagar. Leaders, including M A Gafoor, central committee member were arrested in Kurnool district and other places. Apart from this dharnas were organised 20 more centres as per information received so far.
responding to the call, the Party held picketing at about 45 places throughout the state including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and in almost all local committees. Thousands of workers court arrested breaking the police barricade. State leaders like Party secretary Janardan Pati, secretariat member Sivaji Patnaik, Dusmant Das and state committee members Suresh Panigrahi, Abhiram Behera and othes courted arrest at Bhubaneswar.
In response to the call given by the Polit Bureau, more than thousand workers reported courted arrest at Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Sabarkantha, Janagadh, Daroda, Dahod, and Panchmahal district.
Party and mass organisations held massive dharna in front of the SBI’s main branch in Bhagalpur today and disrupted the functioning of the bank for two and half hours before courting arrest by about 500 activists.