People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 34

August 21, 2011

 The Week In Parliament


CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THE monsoon session of parliament that began on August 1 saw mounting of scathing attacks against the government in both the houses over diverse issues resulting in repeated adjournments.  On the second day of the session, CPI(M) along with other secular opposition parties gave notices for an adjournment motion  and insisted that the government agree to discuss in parliament issues such as price rise and corruption under rules that permit voting as opposed to the motion under Rule 184 on which the BJP-led opposition insisted.




Participating in the discussion on the motion on price rise, CPI(M) deputy leader in Lok Sabha, P Karunakaran, blamed the central government for totally failing to curb the  unprecedented price rise in the country. He reminded how the Congress party had promised during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls that the prices of all essential commodities shall be brought down in the next 100 days. Yet, the prime minister took no action in this regard. He pinpointed the speculation in commodity markets and growing penetration of big corporate in food economy as the main drivers of this price rise. He slammed the government for not controlling or prohibiting the future trading despite clear evidence of its role in driving prices up.


Karunakaran focused on the severe agrarian crisis in the country. The agricultural peasantry continues to be in distress and during the last 15 years, nearly 2.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide. The tragedy of the country where foodgrains were rotting due to lack of storage space at a time when the downtrodden people struggled to get one square meal a day was highlighted by the CPI(M) MP. He mentioned the Supreme Court criticism of the government about Rs 58,000 crore worth of foodgrains rotting in the FCI godowns.  Hoarding and black-marketing are the other factors which contribute to the rise of prices. 


Despite the government gaining nearly Rs 40,000 crore by way of taxes imposed on the petroleum products in the last budget, it has increased prices of petroleum products eleven times in the last one year, said Karunakaran. Asking to take steps to reduce the galloping prices, he advised the government to concentrate more on agriculture. He also demanded strengthening of public distribution system in order to control the prices and provide relief to the poor.


Saidul Haque pointed out how the pulses, oils, and vegetables have gone out of the reach of aam admi due to the relentless price rise. He pointed out how these high prices have not contributed to any betterment in situation for the farmers.


A Sampath noted that no other nation’s central legislature might have discussed the issue of price rise so many times in such a short period. But there were no results as far as reigning in prices is concerned.


M B Rajesh demanded that the government must immediately implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF), particularly the measure of providing loans to farmers at 4 per cent interest rate. He said the decision to allow FDI in retail trade up to 51 per cent will only worsen the situation of price rise apart from ruining the lives of nearly four crore retail traders. He traced these anti-people policies of the government to its commitment to neo-liberal economics. The latest data of National Sample Survey reveals that there has been dramatic deceleration in total employment growth. We have above 8 per cent GDP growth rate, but the rate of growth of employment is as low as 0.8 per cent and the employment situation in the rural India is more serious and acute. Instead of opening their eyes to such a dire situation, the government and the Planning Commission’s experts are questioning the data and the methodology applied by the NSSO, he said.




CPI(M) leader in Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia while participating in the discussion on the statement by the minister of state for youth affairs and sports, Ajay Maken on the Commonwealth Games (CWG), 2010, said that appointing Suresh Kalmadi as chairman of the Organising  Committee of CWG 2010 was a monumental fraud. He questioned why the prime minister did not act despite the then union minister of sports, late Sunil Dutt, warning about Kalmadi’s mischief to become the chairman. Suresh Kalmadi had changed the bid document before becoming the chairman. There was forgery in the updated bid document, and everything was altered. The OC was converted into a private company, the bid document was inexplicably changed to delete the words “Government Appointee” in respect of chairman. How did this happen, questioned Acharia. He blasted the Congress leaders for attacking a Constitutional authority like the Comptroller and Audit General (C&AG) saying that it is interfering with the policy matter. If all these irregularities flow from wrong policies of the government, then there will obviously be a reference to the policy also, said the CPI(M) leader. There were many irregularities in the tendering contracts also. This is borne from the fact that the estimates of cost for conducting the games had escalated abnormally, even exponentially. All the rules were thrown to the wind. In view of all these facts, the CPI(M) leader demanded action to bring to book all the guilty involved in this mega scam, including Delhi chief minister Shile Dixit on whose role the CAG had made comments. This was necessary, said Acharia, because this loot was happening at a time when one fourth of the population of our country are starving and are going to the bed with empty stomachs. The government cites the reason of not having money to universalise Public Distribution System. He also demanded that the prime minister, who was in full know of the happenings, should own responsibility for the irregularities, corruption, mismanagement and loot. He demanded the resignation of Delhi chief minister.


In Rajya Sabha, while discussing on the same issue of CWG 2010 CPI(M) member Prasanta Chatterjee decried the ruling party bigwigs continuous attacks on a Constitutional body, CAG. He sought explanation from prime minister on how he had allowed Suresh Kalmadi to fraudulently become the chairman of OC. And despite kept aware by none other than his own sports minister, why did the prime minister chose to go along?  He felt that the PM and the finance minister cannot evade their responsibility. Chatterjee demanded that the role of corporate sector in the scam should also be investigated.




During this period, Rajya Sabha discussed the issue of growing incidents of terrorism in the country with special reference to the recent blasts in Mumbai on July 13. Participating in the debate, CPI(M) member Moinul Hassan asserted that his Party unequivocally condemns this type of heinous terrorist activity. Terrorism has no religion, no caste and no creed. In this perspective, we must display unity in fighting the terrorist activities with Zero Tolerance, he said. He expressed concern at lack of such unity. He said there is lack of co-ordination within the central government also. Like in every such incident, the police indiscriminately arrest people and the worst sufferers are Muslims, which has been proved after the Malegaon blasts. Though the government announced many steps to protect our country immediately after the Mumbai blasts of 2009, NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid) got in principle approval just three weeks ago which shows lack of co-ordination in the government. Both the Houses passed important bills, namely, NIA and UAPA which are Acts now. POTA was repealed despite reservations over it from many quarters.  On the issue of ‘Maoist’ violence, the CPI(M) member underlined the need to take care of economic, political and ideological factors along with the law and order situation. He said many people have lost their lives, including farmers and common people because of ‘Maoists’ activities. It is a serious threat to the internal security of the nation, he said.




Speaking on the frequent rail accidents during the Calling Attention in Rajya Sabha, CPI(M) member Prasanta Chatterjee pointed out that in the current year itself, 109 deaths have already occurred. We have the Indian Railway Vision 2020 in which the railway minister announced 17,000 unmanned level-crossings would be manned within five years, but what has been done? He demanded to know why is there a ban on creation of posts. There are 55,000 vacancies in the Trackman cadre and 1,26,000 vacancies in the safety category. Chatterjee felt this was most callous on the part of Railways given that so many accidents were occurring regularly. India having one of the largest rail road networks in the world, has not introduced countrywide digital wireless system which is used worldwide. In 2008, it was started and introduced only in Mathura section, which has now been stalled. According to the CAG report, out of 4163 broad gauge diesel locomotives, 223 were over-aged. Drivers are fatigued. That is one of the important causes behind the railway accidents. The minister is introducing new projects without any commensurate improvement in infrastructure. The railway management has become a mess, both with respect to finances and safety. The Depreciation Reserve Fund is very much linked to upkeep of assets. From the last two years the total budget estimates spent is low. It has direct bearing with the asset maintenance. In the recent times, there has been too much political interference, election-oriented populism with corruption, inadequate investment, lack of upgradation in safety cadres etc. He wanted to know why does not the government engage rural bodies, panchayats in safety works, at least till the posts are filled. The Ministry of Railways has increased a number of trains at random without taking minimum care for passenger safety. He concluded by demanding a high-level enquiry into this sorry state of affairs.




On August 4, under the leadership of CPI(M) leader in Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) MPs sat in dharna in the portico of the main gate of parliament against the UPA government’s submission before the Supreme Court that Endosulfan need to banned only over the coming 11 years and no endosulfan-related health problems had come to its notice. Later the CPI(M) MPs submitted a  memorandum to the prime minister seeking immediate ban of the harmful chemical.


CPI(M) member in Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen, raised the matter regarding the country-wide strike by one million bank employees to record their protest against the disaster that this government is going to spell on the financial sector of the economy in the name of so-called reforms. He criticized the government for seriously jeopardising the public sector baking system.


Prasanta Chatterjee raised the issue regarding the devastating floods in West Bengal and also about the need to scrap Shyamala Gopinath Committee Report on the Post Office savings schemes.


Moinul Hassan raised the matter of forceful eviction of farmers from their own lands in various parts of the country; the situation arisen due to sudden fall in prices of raw jute; and on the need to reduce the price of medicines for treatment of cancer.


K N Balagopal raised the matter regarding the serious issue of aggravating fever and other epidemics in Kerala; and on the need to conduct a detailed study on the Pentavalent Vaccine before its introduction in the country.


P Rajeeve raised the matter regarding the problems of rubber famers in the state of Kerala; and on the need to set up an All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Kerala.