People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 28, 2006
Left parties -- the CPI(M), CPI, AIFB and RSP -- issued the following statement
on May 22, 2006.
UPA government has completed two years in office on May 22, 2006. The
performance of the government has to be assessed on the basis of how it has
implemented the Common Minimum Programme and met the challenges of the time.
UPA government came into office with a mandate to uphold the secular principle
and to chart out a path of development which would benefit all sections of the
people while ensuring all-round progress for the country.
the first year of the UPA government, it had taken certain steps such as the
abolition of Pota and adopting the Right to Information Act which strengthened
democratic rights. A major step taken in the second year of the government has
been the adoption of the Rural Employment Guarantee Act which is now being
implemented in 200 districts. It is important that the Employment Guarantee Act
is implemented properly in all these districts and expanded to cover the entire
country within the next three years.
government has also brought the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights)
Bill to parliament which is now being studied by a Joint Select Committee. This
Bill, after taking into account the recommendations of the Committee, will be an
important step for protecting the rights of the tribal people to their
traditional lands in the forests.
these are insufficient. While the
legislation on domestic violence and property rights for women were adopted, the
Women’s Reservation Bill is yet to be taken up in parliament despite constant
reminders. The government has also to expeditiously take up the social security
measures for the workers of the unorganised sector regarding which a report has
been submitted by the Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector. The
Prevention of Communal Violence Bill should also be adopted so that effective
measures can be taken to curb communal violence and to safeguard the rights of
the victims of such violence. A comprehensive Central legislation for
agricultural workers provided for in the CMP has not even been considered.
UPA government has initiated talks with various parties and groups in Jammu
& Kashmir. The dialogue with the separatist organisations must be pursued
alongwith consultations with the main political parties represented in the Jammu
& Kashmir assembly so that a political solution can be found.
The Left parties have also supported the dialogue with Pakistan and the
measures taken so far for improvement of relations.
UPA government is satisfied with the overall economic performance by citing the
GDP growth rate of eight percent in the last year. However, this claim does not
account for the agrarian crisis which has affected the farmers and the rural
poor. Farmers? suicides continue at
a disturbing rate and rural unemployment is increasing. The allocations for
agriculture lag behind what is required. The policy on agriculture is flawed
with foodgrains production not increasing. The recent decision to import three
million tonnes of wheat manifests this wrong policy. With declining procurement,
food security and the public distribution system are bound to be affected.
government has shown no concern for the continuous rise in prices of food items
and other essential commodities. There is a failure to strengthen and expand
public distribution system with the prevailing outlook being how to reduce the
food subsidy. After increasing the prices of petroleum products four times in
the last two years, the government is considering another steep hike citing the
increase in the international oil prices. The government refuses to review the
taxation structure for petroleum products by which the government has imposed a
big burden on the people. Without reduction of the tax burden on petroleum
products, any attempt to impose added burdens on the people will have no
justification and has to be strongly resisted.
two years record has shown the UPA government’s eagerness to push through
policies which are in the interests of foreign finance capital and big business
while it has been tardy in taking up those pro-people measures in the Common
Minimum Programme which would benefit the working people. The government has
gone ahead with allowing FDI in certain vital sectors despite the Left’s
opposition. The recent decision to open retail trade to FDI in single brand
category is one such step. The government continues to be committed to allowing
foreign banks to takeover Indian private banks and, to facilitate this, it wants
to do away with the 10 per cent voting cap in the Banking Regulation Act.
is sought to be pushed forward in various ways.
Privatisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports in the name of
modernization is one such glaring example. Now this is sought to be expanded to
other airports despite the earlier stance that the resources of the Airports
Authority of India will have to be used for modernization of the airports apart
from Delhi and Mumbai. The privatisation of pension funds of government
employees is sought to be pursued through legislation. Licences to foreign and
Indian private mining companies threaten the livelihood and lands of tribal
people who face displacement.
recent crash in the stock market and the volatility of the market underline the
danger of going for full capital account convertibility about which the Prime
Minister has made an announcement. The government refuses to impose long-term
capital gains tax or any other measures which can raise additional resources for
the government to finance its social sector and developmental expenditure.
reservation quotas for the OBCs in higher educational institutions have to be
implemented. The Central government has to bring legislation to empower state
governments to regulate admissions and fees in the private professional
educational institutions. The expansion of school education upto the secondary
level and public health requires a much bigger allocation of funds. More
attention has to be paid to the expansion of educational and employment
opportunities for the Muslim minorities.
the UPA government is pursuing a foreign policy which detracts from the
commitment made in the Common Minimum Programme for an independent foreign
policy. The Indo-US “strategic partnership” forged during the Prime
Minister’s visit to Washington in July 2005 and President Bush’s visit to
India in March 2006 in the second year of the UPA government is of serious
concern. Under the guise of a nuclear cooperation agreement, the United States
is extracting a heavy price from India. India
changed its stand on the Iran nuclear issue and it has embarked on a defence
cooperation which is increasingly aligning India as a strategic partner of the
USA in Asia. Not only that, the United States is directly exercising influence
on domestic policy making. Whether it be our energy policy, the knowledge
initiative in agricultural research with the participation of US multinationals
research (the Iran gas pipeline project has been virtually shelved), the demand
for further liberalisation of the financial sector, the demand for privatisation
of basic services and infrastructure development, all these are part of the
neo-liberal policies which are being implemented in India with open US backing.
Planning Commission has become the hub for the initiation and pushing for such
policies, contrary to the spirit of the Common Minimum Programme.
Left parties will focus on these areas in the coming days. It will, both inside
and outside parliament, vigorously assert that all measures which erode national
sovereignty, or, which are at the dictates of international finance capital that
adversely affect the interests and the livelihood of the working people, will be
the same time, the Left will continuously raise the demand that the government
take immediate steps to tackle the agrarian crisis to ensure further employment
opportunities for the unemployed youth and rural poor and take steps to
consolidate and strengthen the public sector in all the sectors where it has to
play a key role.
Left parties will be meeting soon to take stock of the overall political
situation, the role of the UPA government and chalk out an appropriate course of
action which can strengthen the secular and democratic forces in the country and
ensure that the interests of the working people and the rights of the common
citizens are protected under the UPA government’s dispensation.