(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 25, 2012
Expand Left Intervention, Widen the Struggles
THE country is beset with increasing difficulties. The economic situation is steadily deteriorating, the political system has been ravaged by the rampaging corruption in the ruling establishment, the neo-liberal regime has led to rapid growth of inequalities which in turn is spawning a host of social problems. There are growing attacks on women, mushrooming criminal mafias, rising communal incidents and fratricidal conflicts fanned by the divisive forces.
The UPA government has decided to push ahead with more neo-liberal policies. Since September there have been a series of policy measures which are designed to appease big business and foreign finance capital while cutting down on subsidies and squeezing the livelihood of the people. The increase in the price of diesel by Rs 5 per litre, the opening of multi-brand retail to FDI and the disinvestment in PSUs are some of them.
The prime minister has signaled that there is no going back on the retrograde policies which have brought about the economic difficulties, high inflation, declining industrial production and rising unemployment. The prime minister was addressing his pet constituency when he spoke in Mumbai on November 10 before an assembly of corporates and big business houses. He assured them that the government is determined to push through more measures to “regain investor confidence” which would in turn entail more concessions for them.
The impact of the measures adopted, including the cut in subsidies, on the lives of the people is of no concern for the UPA government and the Congress leadership. In fact, in the November 4 rally held by the Congress party in the Ramlila Maidan, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi came out in full support for FDI in retail and for reduction of subsidies. It was a significant moment when the Congress leadership declared that they are fully on board the neo-liberal agenda of the prime minister.
What this means for the people is becoming more and more evident. The price of food items continue to rise at a cruel pace; farmers are in distress with a large number of them unable to sustain their farming; the growth in employment has reached its lowest rates and the wage earners face intensified exploitation.
A fresh attack is coming on the people’s rights and livelihood in the form of the Cash Transfer Scheme. The UPA government wants to institute the cash transfer programme for subsidies given for kerosene, cooking gas, fertilizers and for the public distribution system on the plea that direct cash transfers would eliminate corruption and wastage. The real aim is to reduce subsidies. If the cash transfer scheme is implemented fully, it will mean the dismantling of the public distribution system and an end to the entitlement of cheap food for the people.
The political scene is striking for the unbridled corruption which has enveloped both the parties of the big bourgeoisie, the Congress and the BJP as seen in the Robert Vadra and Gadkari affairs. The insidious collaboration between politics and business has been so corrosive that it now threatens the very credibility of parliamentary democracy itself.
The recent months have seen a steady rise in communal incidents. In Uttar Pradesh alone there have been eight incidents of communal violence in the past few months. The RSS and the Hindutva forces are provoking such incidents and in a planned manner, they are trying to spread them to neighbouring rural areas. This is what happened in Kosi Kalan and during the recent violence in Faizabad. There seems to be a design to create a communal divide which could help the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. In Karnataka where assembly elections are due next May, the RSS and its outfits have been targeting the minorities and communal violence has occurred in places like Belgaum. In Hyderabad, communal tensions have risen on the construction sought to be made adjacent to the Charminar. During the puja idol immersions in various places provocations were sought to be engineered.
After the widespread communal clashes between the Bodos and the Muslims in the BTAD areas, efforts have been made by both the Hindu and Muslim extremists to create a communal polarisation in Assam. Even after four months, the Muslims in BTAD areas are unable to return and live in their homes peacefully.
The alarming rise in the attacks on women and young girls all over the country points to the breakdown in social mores and the failure of the police and the administration to take strict action to curb such crimes. Moral policing by Hindu extremists and Muslim fundamentalists is on the rise which also targets women primarily.
More and more state governments run by the bourgeois parties are succumbing to the pressures of the communal and divisive forces. Attacks on the democratic rights and civil liberties of citizens are taking place. The police’s unwarranted bias is coming out starkly in the number of cases of Muslim youth who were arrested on terrorism related offences. They are often framed up in cases with false evidence. That is why after prolonged periods of imprisonment, a number of them have been acquitted by courts. Such cases have been most frequent in Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, UP, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. Kashmiri youth are often the target. The extent and number of such cases show that these are not some aberrations but the targeting of the Muslim youth by the investigative and security agencies. This is part of the general attack on democratic rights which is taking place in all spheres of society.
WIDEN & INTENSIFY
The renewed offensive of the neo-liberal policies and the worsening conditions of the common people have created a situation which is ripe for intensifying the struggles of the working people and the building up of popular movements. As against the parties of the ruling classes like the Congress and the BJP, the CPI(M) and the Left have to take the lead in organising resistance to the neo-liberal policies and to widen and intensify the struggles and movements.
On the FDI in retail, the Left parties are holding conventions in all the state capitals and other major urban centres to mobilise public opinion against the entry of foreign supermarkets. This is the beginning of a sustained movement against the entry of foreign super markets like Wal-Mart.
In the struggle for food security and for a universal public distribution system and the threat posed by the Cash Transfer Scheme, the Left parties have decided to conduct a mass signature campaign to collect five crore signatures with a house-to-house campaign in the next two months.
The working class movement has achieved a higher stage of unity and the central trade unions have given a call for a two-day general strike on February 20-21, 2013. The campaign leading to the strike action has begun.
Other sections of the working people are also on the path of struggle. The two-day mahapadav on November 26-27 in Delhi by the scheme workers of anganwadi, Asha and mid-day meal schemes will see thousands camping in the heart of the capital to raise their demands.
The Party had already taken up the question of growing attacks on women and observed a countrywide protest day on October 30. The Party should continue to mobilise public opinion for ensuring the security of women and for the passage of the Sexual Offences Bill in parliament.
The Central Committee meeting of the Party in October had decided that we should continue our efforts to expose and isolate the communal forces. On the 20th anniversary of the Babri Masjid on December 6, the Party along with the other Left and democratic forces will utilise the day to propagate in defence of secularism and rally the people to fight against the designs of the communal forces.
The winter session of parliament has just begun. The fight against FDI in retail will occupy centre-stage with the entire opposition united in demanding that it be discussed and put to vote. The demand to curb price rise, the action to be taken against the host of corruption cases, the passage of the Lokpal Bill should all be on the agenda. Equally important will be the fight to prevent the passage of bills to increase FDI in insurance, banking and privatisation of the Pension funds.
The Israeli aggression and bombardment of Gaza has been brutal and relentless for the past one week. More than 120 people, including 25 children have died so far and hundreds injured. The Manmohan Singh government whose foreign policy is determined by its alliance with the United States and its close ties to Israel has adopted a neutral stance. It has called on both sides to exercise restraint when one side has all the firepower and resources. This shameful stance is a piece of the overall stance of aligning with the US. The CPI(M) strongly condemns the Israeli attack on Gaza. The Party should protest against the massacre of the Palestinians and demand that the Indian government take a strong stand against the Israeli attack and translate that into action in the UN Security Council.
The struggles and the campaigns that will be conducted by the Party and the Left in the coming days should help fight back the neo-liberal offensive, defend the rights and livelihood of the working people and foil the designs of the communal forces.