People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 10, 2006
August Campaign Movement Enters Final Stages
Sitaram Yechury addressing an August campaign meeting in Vishakapatnam, AP, on September 3
THE political atmosphere of Kerala had been agog with slogans that cry out for a complete change in the policies of the UPA government in the interest of the common man. The ongoing political campaign across the state, exposing the anti-national and anti-people policies of the UPA government on the one hand and on the other educating the people at large on the alternative policies being propounded by the CPI(M), is imparting a new spirit of struggle in the state.
The campaign being held in response to the call of the central committee of the CPI(M) is being conducted through rallies in the entire state, huge public meetings in major centres which are addressed by top leaders of the
Party. Large number of people have been attracted towards this intensive campaign and the message has reached almost every nook and corner of the state. Clearly, there has been an overwhelming response even from the sections that hitherto remained highly conservative.
In each district centre 25,000 to 50,000 people attended the rallies and public meetings held as part of the campaign. The enthusiasm of the people showed beyond doubt the increasing influence and the widening mass base of the Party. Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, M K Pandhe, V S Achuthanandan, Pinarayi Vijayan were among those who addressed different rallies in the state.
Mammoth rallies at district centres marked the culmination of the August campaign in the state. The last of the series was held at Kannur, where hundreds of thousands of common people thronged at the call of the CPI(M), ignoring the concerted efforts of the rightist media to thwart the mobilisation. The rally held at the stadium ground was inaugurated by Pinarayi Vijayan, state secretary of CPI(M), who made a scathing attack on the policies of the UPA government, which were detrimental both to the interest of the people and the security of the country. He spoke at length on how Manmohan Singh had been instrumental in foiling the developmental aspirations of the state of Kerala. He said that the policies adopted by the centre had almost discredited the stature of our country in the international arena. E P Jayarajan, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and P K Sreemathi also spoke in the meeting.
Later, speaking about the campaign in the state, Pinarayi Vijayan said that the it had evoked overwhelming response from wider sections as it had immensely contributed towards educating them on the significant role played by the Left in general and the CPI(M) in particular at the national level. He said that the timely intervention of the leadership of the CPI(M) helped in forcing the UPA leadership to abandon certain anti-people policies, and the role played by the Left has been widely appreciated by the people. This, according to him, has all the more increased the responsibility of the CPI(M) as people are increasingly looking towards it for prevention of assaults on them and for whatever little relief possible from the government.
The campaign that lasted for a month highlighted among other subjects, the grave threat posed by the rabid communal forces, the pitiable plight of peasants, the collapse of the public distribution system, the marked aberration of the UPA government from the common minimum programme, the pro-US shift in the foreign policy, the discrimination meted out to the weaker and marginalised sections of the society, the non-fulfilment of the promise of legislation for the un-organised sectors and the proposed amendment of labour laws which paves the way for a unrestrained ‘hire-and-fire’ policy.
The campaign, held at the grassroots level was led by the state leaders of the CPI(M). The jathas that toured the rural areas made it a point to touch the life of the rural folk too. The way the policies of the UPA government were negatively affecting their daily life was explained to them; and this to a great extent has helped in convincing them as to how detrimental the policies of the government at the centre were. As a sequel to this, certain sections, which all along kept away from the Left, also got attracted towards the slogans raised by the CPI(M).
In Wayanad district, where hundreds of farmers committed suicide during the UDF regime, hundreds of thousands of hapless peasants thronged at the rallies. The devastating policies of the UPA government and their disastrous effect on the peasantry were explained to them. The need for increased public investment in agricultural sector was highlighted in the speeches. The jathas demanded the formation of a price stability fund, which ensures remunerative price for the agricultural products of the farmers. A comprehensive scheme for the revival of farming in the areas affected by farmer’s suicide was also demanded.
The policy of compromise adopted by the UPA government towards communal forces, the collapse of the rule of law in Gujarat, the communal onslaught faced by the minorities and the apathy of the centre on all these questions were also highlighted in the jathas.
The campaign demanded among other things, that the right to education should be ensured to all, and the allocation for education should be hiked to 6 per cent of GDP. It also demanded that a legislation at the national level should be made, authorising the states to have a strict control over the fee structure and admission process of the self financing institutions; this was made in the backdrop of the self finance act brought by the LDF government of Kerala.
The campaign had been fruitful in the sense that it had evoked tremendous response from the masses and has immensely contributed towards educating the people on the serious problems faced by the people of our country.
AS part of the national political campaign of CPI(M), a huge public meeting was held on September 3 at Gurajada Kalakshetram in Visakhapatnam. Preceding the meeting a massive rally was organised with thousands of people from the north costal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari. It took around thirty minutes for the rally to cross from one point to another.
The meeting was addressed by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member who said the CPI(M) extended support to the UPA government on the basis of national common minimum programme to keep the communal forces at bay. But at the same time the Party is exerting pressure on the government to amend its policies to benefit the people. If the UPA government crosses the “lakshmana rekha” i.e., CMP, it alone will be responsible for the future consequences. Because of our support the UPA government had to take a few good decisions, like the rural employment guarantee act etc. But many decisions were against the spirit of CMP. The CPI(M) has to pressurise the government both in parliament and out on the streets to keep the government on the right track. In the case of disinvestment in BHEL, UPA government had to declare that no disinvestments will take place in profit making PSUs only due to the Left pressure.
Referring to the hike in the prices of petroleum products, Yechury said that had there been no pressure from the CPI(M), the hike would have been Rs 10 per litre for petrol, Rs 11 for diesel and Rs 150 for gas cylinder. The Left opposed severely and because of our opposition the hike was marginal.
Further, he spoke on the issues of essential commodity prices. He said the UPA government is continuing the NDA policy of forward trading of the agriculture produce which resulted in the sky rocketing of the prices. He demanded the government to abandon this policy and supply 14 essential commodities through the public distribution system. He also explained the dangers of the nuclear agreement that India has reached with the US. The US imperialism is attacking countries that are not conducive to its policies.
He warned the UPA government not to take the pressure from CPI(M) lightly or else the day may come to face the tune in parliament. The pressure will continue on the UPA government with mass movements on streets and in parliament to see that it follows the CMP.
S Punyavathi, state committee member of the Party also addressed the meeting. She said the Congress government in the state is eagerly trying to overtake the earlier Chandrababu Naidu government in implementing the World Bank policies. It is trying to privatise road transport corporation, mines etc. It has been resorting to repression on mass movements organised on issues like displacement in the Gangavaram port, Polavaram construction etc. She urged upon the huge gathering to strengthen the Party and its movements so that our pressure on the UPA increases to benefit the people.
The meeting was presided by Ch Narasinga Rao, state secretariat member and secretary of Visakhapatnam district committee of CPI(M). The secretaries of all the three districts –– C Tejeswara Rao of Srikakulam, M Krishna Murthy of Vizianagaram and D Subba Rao of East Godavari were on the dais.
As part of his tour, Sitaram Yechury addressed a ‘meet the press’ programme organised by Vizag journalist forum press club. Later in the evening Sitaram participated in a get together where he interacted with the industrialists and intellectuals of the city. He spoke on “Indian Industry and Business in Globalisation Era”. Answering a number of queries regarding the CPI(M) stand on FDI, Bengal SEZs, land question etc, Yehury clarified the Party’s stand on all the issues to the satisfaction of the audience.
(Ch Narasinga Rao)
Prakash Karat, Ashok Dhawale and Mahendra Singh at the Mumbai meeting
“THE professional education in India has registered progress but the fee structure in this field is highly exploitative. To stop this and to make the fee structure affordable to the children of the common people, the central government should bring a law” demanded the CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat in Mumbai.
Karat was addressing a largely attended public meeting in Patkar Hall of the SNDT University at New Marine Lines in South Mumbai on August 21, as a part of the nationwide campaign programme on the burning issues of the people. The meeting here was held under the auspices of the Mumbai committee of the CPI(M). Prakash Karat in his hour long speech touched upon various issues vis-a-vis the policies of the UPA government, the national common minimum programme and the CPI(M) alternatives.
Referring to the victories of the Left Front in West Bengal and Kerala, Karat said that this was achieved despite the ganging up of various forces to thwart the Left victory. In Bengal the Party could win three fourth seats with more than 50 per cent votes in spite of a five-phased election schedule and all attempts of the Election Commission to create hurdles in Left electoral campaign. The EC thought that by immobilising the state machinery and its security wings, the Trinamul-BJP-Congress combine could make an easy walkover. But he recalled his statement during the election campaign that unless West Bengal voters are replaced by imported voters from outside, overwhelming victory of the Left Front cannot be prevented. And it happened exactly like that.
One of the ground realities for this seventh consecutive victory for the Left Front in Bengal was the land reforms introduced in the state. This single step of land reform legislation and administrative measures of distribution of surplus land to the landless gave relief to 75 per cent of the poor in rural areas. This helped poverty alleviation. Consequently West Bengal has become the first state in rice production and second in vegetable production in India. This and similar other progressive measures implemented in Wet Bengal has made the people of this state find a friend in the CPI(M) and the Left Front. Such and similar other measures introduced by the first EMS ministry in Kerala and the subsequent Left and Democratic Front governments in that state were the reasons why the people of Kerala voted massively to ensure the LDF victory this time. In this connection, he lauded the bill introduced by the LDF government immediately after it came to power in Kerala. “The bill facilitates studies in specialised subjects like engineering, medical, nursing and other higher studies for the children of the common people. But the vested interests have come openly to oppose the bill in the name of minority rights. We are against commercialisation of education and stand for social control in this vital sector” declared Karat which was greeted by applause.
Similar pro-people policies pursued by the Left Front government in Tripura has ensured repeated victories. An inspiring example of the 2004 parliamentary election in Tripura was that the CPI(M) won both the Lok Sabha seats from this tribal state while all other contesting parties lost their deposits. On top of our agenda was also protection of minorities and campaign against communal and divisive forces, said Karat.
Com Karat wanted the UPA government to move in parliament the bill for 33 per cent reservation for women. He criticised the proposal made by the BJP and the former prime minister A B Vajpayee to increase the seats in Lok Sabha to accommodate 33 per cent reservation for women. “The suggestion is impracticable and hence unacceptable. Let the government first bring the bill in the parliament and if that is done, the position of all parties will then be known to the people”, he said.
Dr Ashok Dhawale, CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee secretary in his short speech referred to the attempts made by the fascist forces to create communal disturbance during the July 11 train blasts. But the secular and democratic-minded people of Mumbai foiled this attempt. Dhawale pointedly referred to the birth of Shiva Sena in Maharashtra in 1966 at the behest of the Congress to finish the communists. But today that party is split in three camps of Narayan Rane, Raj Thackeray and Udhav Thackeray. He also attacked the BJP for its ruinous policies while in power at the centre and for engineering the worst communal riots in Gujarat. The CPI(M) MLA Narsayya Adam Maste also spoke while Mahendra Singh, CPI(M) Mumbai committee secretary presided over the meeting.
(P R Krishnan)