People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 08, 2007
PRICE RISE, RURAL DISTRESS
CPI(M) Organises Massive Demonstration infront of Assembly
THE Assam state committee of the CPI(M) staged a massive demonstration in front of the state Assembly on March 26 demanding immediate steps to check the prices of essential commodities and to strengthen public distribution system, to ameliorate the conditions of the rural poor, to immediately start peace-process for a direct and unconditional talks with the ULFA and for the development of socio-economic conditions of Assam.
Several thousand people carrying party flags, festoons and placards came from the nook and cranny of the state and participated in the angry protest actions. The surrounding areas of Dispur Last Gate adjacent to the state Assembly reverberated with slogans and protests against the failures of the government on many crucial issues. The demonstrators also registered their strong protest against the neo-liberal economic policies of the central government which led to the appalling situation in the rural areas of Assam. The police cordoned off the entire area to prevent the demonstration from approaching towards the Assembly, now in session.
Skyrocketing prices of essential commodities have rendered the life of common people miserable during the Congress
dispensation. The state government has failed to strengthen the PDS. The policies of the central government has led to the
dismantling of the PDS and massive corruption and inefficiency at the state-level has almost ruined the system. Rural
distress in Assam has reached an appalling level with the reduction of agricultural production and ever increasing rate of unemployment. The
state government has done precious little to control the price-line, to provide relief to farmers, rural poor and flood/drought affected people.
The recent budget proposals presented in the state Assembly
for the year 2007-08 has not announced any step for land-reforms,
irrigation facilities, filling up of vacancies and creation of employment avenues, provincialisation of recognised venture schools and
colleges etc. Rather, allocation for developmental activities and social welfare sector has been reduced and the state government accepted the proposed pension policy of the central government. No steps have been taken to promote the growth of the agricultural sectors and to revive the sick PSUs. The state budget has only reflected the neo-liberal approach of the country’s economy.
The Tarun Gogoi government has also failed to improve the working conditions of the tea-garden labourers by providing them fair wages and other necessary facilities.The NREGA has been implemented in seven districts of the state. However, the entire scheme has become a farce in the rural areas. A corrupt nexus of government officials, in league with a handful of contractors, have flouted the norms and misappropriated funds meant for the NREGA schemes.
The Party chalked out a 11 point demand charter which includes checking price rise of essential commodities, strengthening PDS, relief and rehabilitation to the people devastated by recurrent floods and erosions, adequate relief to the people hit by last year’s unprecedented drought, lifting of ban on appointment in government departments, provincialisation of recognised schools, proper implementation of the NREGA scheme and expansion of the scheme to all the districts of Assam, pattas to the land-holders and to stop eviction etc.
Regarding the urgent political issues, the CPI(M) demanded immediate steps to resume the process of peace-negotiation with the banned ULFA. Both the government and the extremist outfit should immediately start direct talks without any precondition, the Party asserted. The Party also demanded Scheduled Tribe status to the six ethnic group namely the Tai Ahoms, Kock-Rajbanshis, Maran, Matak, Chutiyas and Tea communities who are agitating in support of their just demands. Similary, the Party demanded upliftment of the socio-economic conditions of the Muslim minorities who constitute 31 percent of the state’s population in the light of the Sachar committee report.
A meeting was also held at the site of the demonstration where CPI(M) state secretary Uddhab Barman, Party’s Central Committee member Hemen Das, MLA Ananta Deka and Deben Bhattacharyya addressed the huge gathering.
Later, an eight-member delegation led by Uddhab Barman and Hemen Das met the chief minister Tarun Gogoi at his office chamber near the Assembly hall and presented a memorandum. During his thirty minute discussion with the Party delegation, the chief minister agreed with the burning issues raised by the Party and assured to streamline the PDS and to provide land-pattas to the occupants immediately.
Regarding the demand for construction of a second rail bridge over the Brahmputra at Guwahati alongwith the proposed four-laning of National Highway-31, the chief minister stated that provision for rail bridge is still there as informed by the Railway minister Lalu Prasad to the Assam government through a letter. The Party delegation demanded to make the letter public.