People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXVIII

No. 17

April 25, 2004

CPI(M) Orissa Manifesto For State Assembly Elections

 

THE CPI(M) Orissa state committee has declared its manifesto for the 13th state assembly elections. Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member, released this manifesto at a press conference in Bhubaneswar on April 7, 2004, in presence of Janardan Pati, state secretary and other secretariat members.

 

At the outset, the manifesto criticised the BJD-BJP government which pre-poned the election by more than a year. The manifesto has mentioned that the communal forces in the state have been emboldened during the BJP-BJD rule. The shameless example was the attack of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini combine on the state assembly and the failure of the government to punish the culprits. There were also increased attacks on religious minorities at various places in the state.    

 

The RSS and its frontal organisations are out to break the unity of the state. One of the BJP MLAs in the state has spearheaded the movement to bifurcate the state.

 

DISASTROUS ECONOMIC REFORMS

In the name of implementing the economic reforms, the BJD-BJP government has gone on globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation spree and allowed the World Bank and DFID major say in the economic affairs of the state. In fact after the signing of a second MoU with these institutions, under the active guidance and pressure of the Vajpayee government, the economic activities of the state are being subjected to scrutiny by the World Bank and DFID. While the interference of the central government undermines the federal character of the Constitution, the interference of World Bank and DFID undermines the economic sovereignty. The MoU has been linked with the transfer of funds from the centre to the state for both plan and non-plan expenditure. Even the state assembly has not been taken into confidence while finalising the MoU.

 

Due to these economic reform measures, the prices of inputs for agriculture, like seed, fertiliser, irrigation and electricity duty have been enhanced. In the field of industry no new factories have come up. Orient paper mill and Spinning mills have been closed. The state government decided to privatise 10 PSUs and IDCOL, cement plant worth Rs 1000 crore have been sold to ACC at a price of Rs 176 crore.

 

The BJD-BJP combine has miserably failed to fulfil their early election promise of ensuring a 25 per cent increase in irrigation facilities. Instead the government has virtually stopped irrigation activity by introducing so-called water panchayat, which is nothing but privatisation of irrigation.

 

In the name of electricity reforms, the production and distribution of electricity has been privatised. The private AES company has cheated the state by Rs 180 crore. AES and BSES companies have collected increased electricity charges from the consumers but they did not deposit their dues to GRIDCO.

 

In the education sphere, the process of privatisation has been initiated. A notorious Private Universities Bill has been introduced which will result in rampant commercialisation of education. Already, the acute shortage of teaching staff has affected the quality of education. Grants to hundreds of schools have been stopped.

 

Unemployment situation has accentuated due to the state governmentís decision to reduce employees strength by 20 per cent. Nearly  54,000 posts have been abolished, and 38,000 non-formal teachers have been thrown out.

 

In addition to all this, the government has increased electricity charges, land revenue, vehicle tax, water and irrigation charges, education fees, court fees, hospital fees substantially. But at the same time it has exempted sales tax on MNC beverages Pepsi and Coca Cola. Moreover, another private company, JCCL has been exempted a loan of Rs 2300 crore.

 

During the BJD-BJP regime of last four years, the stateís debt burden has increased by over Rs 14,000 crore. During the period, 440 people have died of hunger, 36 children have been sold, 25 unemployed youth have committed suicide and 47.15 per cent people still remain below the poverty line. The stateís per capita annual income stands at Rs 9,162 against an all India average of Rs 16,056. 

 

Contrary to the promise made by prime minister Vajpayee and the BJD-BJP government on meting out a fair treatment, the state is being discriminated by the centre. Orissa did not receive help from the centre in the manner in which Gujarat received.

 

CORRUPTION  

Contrary to the claim made by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, corruption is rampant in the state. Rice procurement scam (by exchanging bags by the mill owners and reselling to the BPL card holders), the figuring of chief ministerís name in procuring a mining lease for an international private company in Judev bribe scam tape, the handing over of valuable bauxite mines lease to Sterilite group, Chromites mines lease to various industrial groups are some of the examples of corruption of the state government.

 

ROLE OF THE CPI(M)

During these years, the CPI(M) has stood for the interest of the poor common people in the state, it has raised its voice of protest against anti-people measures and stood for protection of the employees and workers. The CPI(M) has fought valiantly outside the assembly and its representative fought inside. It stood for cyclone hit, drought and flood affected people, fought against retrenchment of workers, fought against price-rise etc. It also fought for the protection of the peasants, agricultural workers youth, students, women, workers and employees. If fought against communal forces.

 

DEFEAT BJD-BJP

 

That is why the CPI(M) has given the call to defeat the BJD-BJP combine, and replace it by a secular government. It has appealed to the electorate to increase the strength of the CPI(M) and the Left parties in the assembly. In order to defeat the BJD-BJP combine, it has arrived at seat adjustments with the Left and secular parties viz CPI, Congress, Orissa Gana Parishad, JMM and JD(S). CPI(M) is contesting three assembly seats viz Nilgiri, Bonai and Baisanga.

 

In the context of the assembly election, the CPI(M) has put forth a charter of demands before the people of the state, based on which the Party will conduct its movements. It has demanded repeal of Economic and Administrative Reform programme, waiving of all central loans, upward revision of royalty on mining ores, devolution of 50 per cent of tax collected by the centre to the state without any condition, 50 per cent of the amount needed to implement Fifth pay commission report to be borne by the centre, increase the natural calamity funds, food for work programme by utilising buffer stocks of FCI, decentralisation and more power to the panchayats, drastic action against corruption, timely utilisation of funds allocated to projects, increase of government investment in agriculture, repeal of water panchayat, remunerative price to peasants, direct purchase from peasants by the government and the FCI, repeal of new industrial policy, repeal of electricity reforms and re-establishment of state electricity board, permanent measures to protect against natural calamities, employment to 2.5 lakh unemployed, filling up of unfilled vacancies, development of infrastructure facilities, filling up of vacancies in educational and other institutions and providing grants to them, withdrawal of private university bill, repeal of urban police bill opening of PHCs in panchayats, providing medicines, checking privatisation of health service, providing drinking water for all, steps for checking child mortality, one-third reservation for women in parliament and state assembly, equal rights for women with men, action against atrocities on women, banning child labour, providing need-based wage, protection of Trade Union and democratic rights, providing security of job to workers and employees stopping atrocities on SC/ST, steps to develop Adivasi culture, recognition of its language and script, equal rights and privileges for people of all religion caste and creed, step to spread scientific ideas and for a self reliant science and technology policy.

 

To implement the above programme, the CPI(M) appealed to the people to ensure the victory of CPI(M) and Left candidates while also ensuring the victory of secular and democratic forces. This will be a verdict for establishment of a secular government by defeating the communal BJD-BJP alliance.