People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 27, 2006
AUGUST CAMPAIGN INTENSIFIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Strengthen The Left For A Viable Alternative
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Kerala chief minister V S Achutanandan addressing the August campaign rally at Kanyakumari, Tamilnadu
THE historic city of Panipat was the venue for a big rally held by the CPI(M) as part of its ongoing August campaign. This was one of the three big rallies planned in Haryana for the campaign. This historic city which witnessed key battles is now a textile industrial hub and contributes significantly to the country’s exports of handloom, spinning looms, carpets etc thus earning important foreign exchange. Around 3 lakh workers live in the city.
The CPI(M) rally was held on August 12 in the background of militant struggles of workers in these industries for the last two and half months. There is absolutely no implementation of labour laws here. The managements extract 12 to 18 hours of work from the workers. No minimum wage is paid. The Centre of India Trade Unions (CITU) has been working among the workers on their demands and it held an impressive rally here on May 28, 2006. This encouraged the spinning mill workers further who came on to the roads for their demands the day after the CITU held the rally. There was a big ongoing struggle of the workers of Liberty shoes company in the adjoining towns of Panipat like Karnal and Gharoda. The police brutally attacked thousands of workers of the three units of Liberty, including women, when they came out to protest the management’s anti-labour policy. One worker was seriously injured in the police firing while 60 others were arrested. The agitating mood of the workers of Liberty found reflection in this rally with their enthusiastic participation under their union banner.
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP Sitaram Yechury in his speech gave a call from this historic battleground place of Panipat for intensifying the struggle for alternative policies. He said although the CPI(M) was extending support to the UPA government only on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), the government was bent on ignoring the CMP. That is why the CPI(M), while stoutly opposing the government’s harmful policies within parliament, embarked on this campaign to reach out among the people to propagate the alternative policies and seek their support for them.
Yechury pooh-poohed the claims made by the government of achieving 8 per cent GDP growth by drawing attention to the growing number of people living below poverty line and the alarmingly increasing number of farmer suicides. He said the country was making economic progress but the fruits of such progress are being cornered by a few big business houses. It is only through popular struggles that the policies of the government can be re-oriented towards the interests of common people. He cited the case of Bengal, where the Left Front government was voted for the seventh successive term, and said this was possible only because the Left Front government lifted the living standards of the rural poor through its pro-people economic policies.
Referring to the current price rise, Yechury said this resulted because of massive cuts in import duties and doing away with licensing for food procurement. If the government intends to control the price situation, then it has to immediately ban forward trading and take stringent measures against black marketers and hoarders, he asserted. He also demanded strengthening of public distribution system.
Rubbishing the government’s argument of lack of funds for welfare programmes, Yechury said there was a huge sum of Rs 1.5 lakh crore tax arrears and around Rs 1 lakh non performing assets (NPAs) of banks. Even if half of this amount is collected by the government, there would be no shortage of money for these programmes. He also strongly criticised the government for abandoning our independent foreign policy and kowtowing to US imperialism. He expressed apprehension that the Indo-US nuclear accord may go against the interests of the country.
CPI(M) Haryana state secretary Inderjeet Singh in his address said the state was facing all-round crisis. With large sections of state populace depending on agriculture, the severe crisis facing that sector is hitting the farmers and agricultural labour hard. Despite change of parties in governance, there has been no relief for the people of the state as successive governments were following the same discredited policies. And if there has to be a change in the policies, there is urgent need to strengthen the Left forces, he asserted.
Inderjeet Singh further said that on one hand foodgrain production has seen a fall because of declining public investment in agriculture and on the other the government was handing over thousands of acres of fertile lands to private companies in the name of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). He charged the state government of acting like a property dealer. It was acquiring land whose market value was Rs 1 crore per acre at just Rs 18 lakh for big private companies resulting in huge loss to the farmers. Such actions of the government would not only hurt farmers but also the country due to fall in foodgrain production. Currently Haryana is among the top states in terms of foodgrain production. The CPI(M) leader demanded immediate nullification of such agreements entered by the state government with the private companies.
CPI(M) state secretariat member Surendra Mallik, CITU general secretary Satvir Singh, CITU vice president Balbir Dariya, Janwadi Mahila Samithi vice president Rajkumari, Kisan Sabha president Phool Singh Shayokand, Khet Mazdoor Union leader Jag Mal Singh, Party district leaders Anand Jawahara, Tek Chand, Bhim Singh Saini, Kundan Lal, Shraddanand Solanki were among those who addressed the gathering.
A presidium comprising of Santokh Singh, Subha Singh and Bava Singh conducted the proceedings of the rally.
IN JALANDHAR, PUNJAB
Brinda Karat addressing the campaign rally in Jalandhar, Punjab
“UPA Govt Must Implement CMP’
ADDRESSING a massive public rally in Nurmahal town of Jalandhar district in Punjab on August 10, 2006, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP, Brinda Karat asserted that the UPA government, which is existing because of the outside support of Left parties, must implement the pro-people measures of Common Minimum Programme as the support of the Left parties is premised on the implementation of the programme.
The rally was organised as part of the Party’s ongoing August campaign. Over 8,000 people including 1000 women participated in the rally and attentively listened to the speakers for about four hours. The main bazaars of the town had been decked with Red flags and buntings. The town reverberated with thunderous slogans of the rallyists.
In her hour long spirited speech Brinda Karat strongly criticised the UPA government for following the same old policies of neo-liberalisation and moving half-heartedly towards fulfilling the commitments made in the NCMP for the benefit of the people, especially the working people and the weaker sections. Lashing out at the finance minister, she said Chidambaram should change the glasses of his spectacles, as with the present glasses he sees only the big industrial houses and the stock market but is unable to see the plight of poorer sections of the society.
Karat criticised the UPA government for its failure to check the continuous rise in the prices of food items and other essential commodities which was making the life of the common people miserable. She said that this situation has arisen due to government’s policy of cutting down on procurement leaving the field open to private traders who indulge in hoarding and create artificial shortages. She added that the increase in the prices of petrol and diesel has compounded this price-rise. She demanded that PDS should be strengthened and universalised. Referring to the plight of the farmers and rural workers, she said that this section of the society is facing a most critical situation. The farmers are caught in a debt trap. Thousands of farmers have committed suicides in different parts of the country. She lambasted the government for being insensitive to the situation.
Brinda Karat also pointed out that while USA other developed countries were spending huge on domestic subsidies to agriculture, the UPA government was resorting to cuts in agriculture subsidies which is highly unjustified. She demanded that interest rate on farm loans should be reduced to 4 per cent. She also demanded that rural employment guarantee act should be extended to all parts of the country and a similar law should also be enacted for the urban areas. She further demanded that a comprehensive law for agricultural workers and an appropriate legislation for the unorganised sector workers should be brought without any further delay.
She also demanded that the women’s reservation bill be listed for discussion and vote in the current session of the parliament. She expressed grave concern over the declining female ratio due to increasing illegal abortions of female foetuses. Referring to the press reports about the detection of mass grave of unknown daughters in a pit situated in the vicinity of a private hospital near Patiala, she said deterrent punishment should be given to such unscrupulous people.
CPI(M) Punjab state secretary, Professor Balwant Singh, in his speech criticised the Amrinder Singh government for its anti-people policies. He said this government has failed on all fronts. He also strongly criticised SAD (Badal) for its double standards in politics. While in power, they never care for the interests of Punjab and the people. But when they are in opposition, they speak in a different language and wake up to the problems of the people. He announced that the Party will not enter into any alliance either with Congress or with SAD(B) in the ensuing assembly elections in Punjab. He said the Party will try to forge an alliance with like-minded parties and it will be based on common approach to basic policy issues and opposition to communalism.
Among others, the rally was also addressed by CPI(M) central committee members Charan Singh Virdi and Lehember Singh Taggar, general secretary of Punjab Kisan Sabha, Rashpal Singh, president of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, Gurchetan Singh Bassi and Party district secretary Daljit Singh Dhadda. A presidium comprising of Dial Dhanda, Fumman Ram and Sukhwinder Kaur conducted the proceedings of the rally.
This rally was preceded by a month long campaign by conducting unit wise and cluster meetings through out the districts of Jalandhar and Kapurthala. There was wide distribution of wall posters, leaflets etc thereby taking the message of the Party to almost all major centres in the districts.
IN GULBARGA, KARNATAKA
Suneet Chopra addressing the campaign rally in Gulbarga, Karnataka
ON August 21 Gulbarga saw one of its biggest rallies as part of the August campaign programme of the CPI(M). The fighting in the corrupt JD(U)-BJP alliance government, the hike in oil prices and the consequent rise in the prices of foodstuffs, the attempt of RSS and the Sangh Parivar to fan communal passions and local demands of house-sites of the wages of anganwadi workers have created a powerful mobilisation of the masses.
Addressing the rally, CPI(M) central committee member Suneet Chopra pointed out that the central government’s soft attitude to the USA and its failure to tackle the communal RSS using the BJP governments to carry out its divisive agenda had increased the responsibility of the Left to come forward and ensure the independent foreign policy and communal harmony as demanded in the CMP are adhered to strictly. It was the Left pressure that prevented the sale of BHEL and NALCO to private industry. He further pointed out that it was pressure from the Left that ensured that the NREG Act took the form it did, that the RTI Act was prevented from being diluted and the struggle was on to pass the Tribal Rights and Women’s Reservation Bills. These struggles needed to be taken up both in parliament and in the streets.
He highlighted the need for the state and central governments to ensure immediate relief to farmers still committing suicide all over the country and not merely to make promises to help them. He also wanted the government to ensure adequate supply of grain and the necessaries of life under the PDS and protect the rural poor, dalits and adivasis from attacks of land mafias, criminals and feudal elements being given new avenues of profiteering by the polices of globalisation, liberalisation and privatization. Suneet Chopra called upon the people to continue fighting against the cavalier way in which the all round price rise was being fuelled by the government’s refusal to reduce the 57 per cent tax revenue it gets from the price of oil.
The meeting was also addressed by the Party district secretary Maruti Manpade, AIDWA leader Nila, CITU leader Prasanna Kumar [all CPI(M) state secretariat members] and Meghraj Katare, Bhima Shetty Yempalle, Veerappa Chhepo Tadakal and Gangamma Biradar.
Suneet Chopra also addressed three separate gatherings the next day: the first Mohd Hassan Khan memorial lecture at the National Institute, on ‘Terrorism – An Imperialist Offshoot, Reasons and Remedies’; at the Art College in Gulbarga on the ‘Role of Contemporary Artists In Present Day Society’ and at the government guest house hall on the ‘Importance Of Secularism Today’.