People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 13, 2006
AUGUST CAMPAIGN EVOKING GOOD RESPONSE
As the August campaign of the Party entered the second week, there was growing enthusiasm and response to the campaign across the country. The Party cadre is actively spreading the message of the campaign among the people in various forms. The meetings being held as part of the campaign are drawing sizeable numbers, and more importantly the reception of the masses to the Platform of Demand and Policies drawn up by the Party is very positive.
Below we give reports of the campaign from few states
NO TO US PRESSURE
ON NUCLEAR DEAL
Karat Warns UPA Govt
A view of the dais of the Amritsar meeting
“WE have always intervened with the UPA government whenever it has deviated from the Common Minimum Programme. We will not support the government on the Nuclear Deal if it gives in to the US”.
This was the stern warning issued to the UPA government on the Indo-US nuclear deal, by Prakash Karat, general secretary of CPI(M) on August 7, 2006 at Amritsar while addressing an impressive public rally, attended by around four thousand people, mainly from Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts of Punjab. This was the first of the seven rallies being held as part of the August campaign of the Party.
Despite heavy rains since the morning the people joined the rally with big enthusiasm and fervour. The open stage and pandal had to be abandoned because of incessant rains and the venue shifted to indoor stadium of Guru Nanak Bhawan nearby. During his speech, Prakash Karat dwelt on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal and observed that the CPI(M) is of the view that the American Senate Committee and Foreign Relations Committee have shifted the goalposts as contained in the July 2005 Framework Agreement on Indo-US Nuclear Deal signed by the prime minister Manmohan Singh and president Bush. He demanded the government to share the whole information on the deal with the parliament and take into consideration the opinion of the parliament after a thorough discussion. Referring to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, Karat observed that the UPA government should maintain its good diplomatic relations with Iran strive to put in place the project as it would be very beneficial for India’s long term energy interests. He urged upon the UPA government to pursue an independent foreign policy as committed in the CMP and stop aligning India as a strategic ally of the US imperialism.
Prakash Karat also elaborated on the other demands of the Platform of August campaign like ending agrarian crisis, protesting the livelihood of the peasantry, strengthening PDS and taking appropriate firm steps to check price rise of essential commodities, introduction of legislation for 33 per cent reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures, and firm step to check extremists violence in Jammu & Kashmir etc.
CPI(M) state secretary, Balwant Singh, central committee member, Lehmbar Singh Taggar, and secretariat member, Vijay Misra were among those who addressed the gathering.
The rally was presided over by a presidium consisting of Ramveer Singh Virk, Kisan Singh and Major Singh Bhikhiwand.
Earlier, Prakash Karat visited Jallianwala Bagh memorial and paid homage to the victims of the brutal massacre perpetrated by British colonial regime. The managing trustee of the Jalllianwala Bagh Memorial Trust presented a memento to Karat on this occasion. (INN)
As part of the national level campaign of the Party, a public meeting was held in Tiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu on August 5, 2006 in which CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP, Brinda Karat was the main speaker. The meeting was presided over by S Sridhar, CPI(M) Tiruchi district secretary. Annadurai, Party city secretary, welcomed the gathering.
Addressing the thousands of people gathered for the meeting Brinda Karat, explained how the ruinous economic policies of successive central governments were inflicting immense suffering on the people. Without addressing the concern of the poor and working people no development would be meaningful, she said. Karat advised the government to pay more attention to the sufferings of aam admi who go to bed without food than to the gyrations of stock market.
Karat demanded an immediate stop to futures trading, which was originally permitted by the BJP-led NDA government and continued by the present UPA government. She likened the speculative role of future trading to the actions of a pick pocketer. Drawing the attention of the gathering towards the changes made in the Essential Commodities Act made by the NDA government which enabled the hoarders and blackmarketeers to mint profit at the cost of the poor, she demanded the UP A government to restore the law to its original position so as to enable the government to act against hoarders and blackmarketeers. She dealt in detail on the petrol/diesel price hike, and the multiplier effect it had on the prices of all commodities.
Brinda Karat congratulated the chief minister of Tamilnadu M Karunanidhi for having implemented the election manifesto promise of providing rice at Rs 2 per kg through PDS and thereby enhancing the food subsidy from that of Rs 1200 crore to Rs 1400 crore. She recalled the convincing arguments put forth by union finance minister P Chidambaram in support of this assurance during election campaign. But, she wondered, once he reached Delhi from Tamilnadu, the tone and tenor of arguments of the finance minister in respect of food subsidy have changed. She urged the central government to extend the Tamilnadu experience to the whole country and also to include more commodities for distribution through the PDS. She also demanded strengthening of PDS.
Dwelling on the other important demand of the August campaign – land, she expressed happiness over the announcement of Tamilnadu chief minister in initiating steps to identify wastelands for distribution to landless people. She told that this would only be the first step and lot needs to be done. She stressed that while distributing the lands, the pattas should be issued in the joint names of husband and wife. The interest of single women also needed to be taken care of. She explained in detail the implementation of land reforms in West Bengal and also pointed out that wetlands were distributed in Bengal and not mere wastelands. Moreover, the land distributed went mainly to the dalits and other downtrodden sections. The pattas were issued in the joint name of husband and wife, she said. The prevalence of untouchability, two glass system, caste oppression etc were all due to the economic dependence and social condition of dalits. But in West Bengal, there is no caste oppression or untouchability, she said. This was possible because of implementation of land reforms, she explained. Economic, social and political power was given to the people in West Bengal.
While deliberating on the issue of reservation, she demanded extension of reservation system to the private sector also in the changed scenario of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation. She also stressed the importance of bringing legislative measures to protect the workers in unorganised sector. She warned the government against the attempt to dilute the existing labour laws.
Brinda Karat praised the Mumbaikars for their silent but strong rebuff to the terrorists attack. She also paid rich tributes to the CPI(M) martyrs in the struggle against terrorism in Tripura, J&K and other places. By such sacrifices, the CPI(M) strengthened the unity of the people, she pointed out. She condemned the ongoing attacks on minorities in the BJP-led state governments, particularly in Gujarat and called for stringent action against such communal violence and fundamentalist acts. The CPI(M) stands for the unity of the people and sovereignty of the nation and hence it alone could be the hope of the people of the country, she asserted.
Murugesan, T R Periyasamy, Chinnadurai – district secretaries of Perambalur, Karur and Pudukkottai – also spoke in the meeting. G Rethinavel, state committee member and M N S Venkatraman, state secretariat member also addressed the gathering. (INN)
THE Orissa state committee of the CPI(M) has planned to conduct the August campaign of the Party in a big way through out the state. The state secretariat reviewed the preparations being made in this regard at its meeting on August 2. It was noted that for the first time, the Party would be able to touch all the 30 districts during this period of campaign. The district committees of the Party have planned to take this campaign to more than 120 blocks out of the total 314 in the state. The mode of campaign in these blocks include village meetings, cycle jathas and in a few districts jeep jathas too. The August campaign will culminate in five zonal rallies at Sambalpur, Balasore, Cuttack, Puri and Berhampur. Five state secretariat members have been entrusted with the task of monitoring the conduct of the campaign and rallies.
The enthusiasm among the cadre at the district-level and down below in taking up the campaign is noticeable. The Orissa party has been busy in taking up various issues of the people – land and house site pattas, Indira Awas Yojana, BPL cards for every poor family, wage and guarantee of rural employment etc. The campaign of the Party was widespread and it culminated in a 48-hour dharna in the capital city of Bhubaneswar in the month of February 2006. People from 27 districts, with a sizeable section of Adivasis and women, participated in the dharna. This agitation was followed up with district and local-level demonstrations resulting in the government granting some of the demands. Such achievements enhanced the confidence and enthusiasm of the Party cadre.
The August campaign in the state, as in the rest of the country, would be centred around alternate policies vis-à-vis the anti-people, pro-MNC policies pursued by successive central governments. The UPA government’s commitment in the CMP and the its blatant breach of those commitments would be exposed as well before the people along with its fallouts with concrete experience in the state of Orissa. The Left’s alternative policies are being received by the people with deep attention and enthusiasm.
The people of the state are bearing the brunt of the BJD-BJP state government active pursuance of the neo-liberal policies, and this is leading to widespread discontentment among them. This factor also is helping in bringing thousands of people from every walk of life on to the streets. Peasants, Adivasis, government employees, teachers etc are on struggle path. The brutal killing of Adivasis in Kalinganagar has shocked the tribal population in the state.
The people of the state are also watching how the state government is steadfast in serving the interests of the corporate houses to the detriment of the interests of the state and the people. Thousands of acres of precious government and private land are almost donated free to corporate houses in the name of industrialisation. MoUs are being signed almost everyday to handover rich mineral deposits like iron ore, bauxite, manganese, chromites etc to foreign and domestic industrial houses. The state is put to heavy loss as mining lease is granted with nominal royalty and at a throw-away price.
The situation of unemployment in the state is grave with recruitments being banned and the number of government employees and teachers being drastically reduced. About 50,000 teacher posts are lying vacant. The government is refusing to aid and assist the schools and colleges of the state. On the other hand, MoUs have been signed to hand over 8000 acres of land between Konark and Puri to Vedanta to set up a private university which will in no way serve the interests of the people of the state.
The Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group which took over the charge of power distribution illegally from BSES in three zones of the state has to pay about Rs 2000 crore as arrear dues to GRIDCO, including interest amount. The Orissa government, instead of taking serious steps to realise this hefty amount, has further entered into an agreement with the same firm to establish a thermal-based power plant at Hirma with an investment of Rs 65,000 crore. Shockingly, the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission, after the visit of Anil Ambani to Orissa has written off the interest amount of Rs 850 crore and directed the firm to clear the dues in 120 monthly installments! Reliance has also declared its intention to establish a private technical university at Bhubaneswar for which again the government has agreed to allot land.
The rural employment guarantee scheme works in 19 districts out of the 30 are being sabotaged by the state government itself. The scheme is so designed in the state by the government that a labourer is able to earn hardly Rs 40 per day while working diligently.
All these will be focused during the August campaign of the Party along with the platform of demands and policies formulated by the central committee. The alternative policies formulated by the Party will be specially focussed. Unfortunately, the flood situation in the 14 districts and erratic rains in some parts have no doubt affected the campaign work but the Party committees are taking up the programme with all seriousness and sincerity.
(Ali Kishore Patnaik)