(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 08 , 2008
Nationwide Angry Protests
Bengal, Kerala & Tripura Witness Total Bandh Against Price Rise
THE Left parties have plunged into protest actions against the unjustified burden of petro-product hike on people imposed yet again by the Manmohan singh government.
At the time of going to press, the three states of Bengal, Kerala and Tripura witnessed complete shutdown on June 5 due to the general strike call given by the Left parties in those states. The CPI(M), CPI and Telugu Desam have given a call for a general strike in Andhra Pradesh on June 6 while in Tamilnadu the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc have called for a general strike on June 7.
Elsewhere also spontaneous protests are taking place under the aegis of the Left parties against this unprecedented price hike. Speakers at these demos have decried the Manmohan Singh government's pro-rich bias and blatantly anti-aam admi approach. The non-acceptance of Left parties clear-cut alternative proposals to shield the common man from this burden was highly criticised.
MILLIONS marched across Bengal in the districts in the urban and rural areas throughout the afternoon and evening of June 4 at the call of the CPI (M) and the Left Front against the unjustified hike in petro prices imposed by the UPA government. The programme called at a very short notice was a complete triumph. It presaged the comprehensive success that the 12-hour general strike was the next day statewide.
Left Front chairman and Bengal secretary of the CPI(M) Biman Basu felicitated the people of Bengal for making the general strike a huge and emphatic success. He reminded the people that 'we in the CPI(M) and the Left Front are not part of the union government.'
'We,' said Basu, 'merely provide cooperation and support from the outside based on the Common Minimum Programme, especially the CMP's pro-people agenda.' He pointed out that the CPI(M) and the Left have long been opposed to both the general price rise and the rise in the prices of petro goods with its cascading fall-out. He lambasted the central government for ignoring the alternative proposals placed by the Left parties.
The general strike was comprehensively total. In our long experience of observing people's protests, seldom have we come across the utterly spontaneous manner in which an angry populace reacted to the price-hike of petrol, diesel, and most of all, the all-important cooking gas. Bar ambulances and vehicles of the media corps, virtually no traffic could be seen in Kolkata, and in the surrounding districts that we toured around.
The banks and financial institutions, schools and colleges, had large forbidding-looking padlocks up front on the closed portals that said 'off limits' to potential entrants; the market places like the bustling Haatibagan bazaar in the north Kolkata and the posh and fancy New Market in downtown metropolis witnessed the shops closed.
From the mall of Darjeeling through the foothills, along the terai and the dooars areas, via the nearly 40,000-odd villages and settlements, the close to three hundred cities and townships, down both sides of the Ganges and the Hooghly to the southern districts, people stayed away from workplaces.
THE CPI(M) Delhi state committee organised several protest actions in Delhi and entire National Capital Region on June 5 against fuel price hike.
Several hundred activists of the CPI(M) participated in an angry protest against hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG and blocked all roads at the Scindia House crossing near the Connaught Place for nearly an hour. The protestors also burnt the effigy of prime minster Manmohan Singh expressing displeasure over the insensitive and fallacious logic provided by him in his address to the nation on June 4. All protestors, including central committee members, Tapan Sen, Hannan Mollah and Jogendra Sharma, and CITU leaders Dipankar Mukherjee and Hemlata, were arrested and taken to the Parliament Street police station. Earlier the protestors were addressed by Tapan Sen, Hannan Mollah and Jogendra Sharma.
Around 200 CPI(M) activists also blocked the Link Road in Ghaziabad Site 4 for over an hour. Simultaneously another 200 protestors blocked the Main Bus Terminus Chowk of Ghaziabad City. The Baghpath Road in Loni was also blocked for over an hour. In NOIDA, Baans Balli Chowk was blocked. Protestors burnt effigies of Manmohan Singh at each protest site.
The speakers strongly criticised the UPA government for ignoring the alternative proposals given by the Left parties for reducing prices of petrol, diesel, and cooking gas and for refusing to impose a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas extracting companies and the private oil refineries.
The CPI(M) Delhi unit will mobilise people opinion against this unjustified burden and organise a much bigger protest demonstration on June 11.
(More reports from states in the next issue -- Ed)