(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 20 , 2008
LEFT LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN
'Congress Ka Haath America Ke Saath'
THE Left parties began a nationwide political campaign to explain to the people the reasons for withdrawal of support to the Congress-led UPA government at the centre with an impressive meeting in New Delhi. At the time of going to press, big public meetings, rallies were also held in Chennai, Kolkata and many other places as part of this campaign.
The meeting in New Delhi on July 14, 2008 was addressed by the general secretaries of the four Left parties - CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP. The venue reverberated with thunderous slogans against Manmohan Singh government's servility to US imperialism, its callousness in dealing with rampant inflation and price rise etc. “Bush ki nahin, logon ki suno” (listen to the people, not Bush) was one slogan which was striking.
Speaking first in the meeting CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat made a blistering attack against the Manmohan Singh government and Congress leadership for giving more priority to keeping their promise to US president George Bush than providing relief to the people from the back-breaking inflation and price rise arising primarily out of the government's anti-people economic policies. The two main reasons for the withdrawal of support by the Left parties to the Manmohan Singh government are proceeding with the nuclear deal and inaction in tackling inflation and price rise. He criticised the prime minister for ignoring the suggestions made by the Left parties to curb inflation and price rise.
Karat asserted that the Left will make every effort to bring down this government in the confidence vote in parliament and dared the PM and the Congress to go among the people for a renewed mandate. “In the last elections, Congress party went into the battle with the slogan Congress ka haath, Aam Aadmi ke saath. But now it is Congress ka haath, America ke saath”, he taunted. He also said a minority prime minister Manmohan Singh and a minority president George Bush are binding our nation for 40 years through the India-US nuclear deal.
Referring to the allegation being made against the Left that it is combining with communal forces in voting against the government, Karat questioned whether Congress party ha any right to make such charge. He reminded how Congress voted along with BJP to bring down secular governments of V P Singh in 1990 and the Deve Gowda and I K Gujral governments in 1997-1998 period. The record of the Left in the fight against communalism is before the people. The BJP does not have a single seat in assembly or parliament in the Left-ruled states of Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. On the contrary, the Congress lost all its governments in the recent elections to state assemblies in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Karnataka etc to the BJP. The BJP could win these states because the Congress governments pursued anti-people policies engendering discontent among people which was cashed by the BJP. Karat also charged the Congress of adopting soft-Hindutva approach on communalism and this was apparent in what they did or did not do during the Gujarat riots. The Left would continue its struggle against communalism, he asserted.
Explaining how Manmohan Singh government's pro-American obsession and Congress leadership's complicity were responsible for the present crisis, Karat reminded that the Left parties supported the UPA government from outside to keep the communal forces at bay. But this support was based on the Common Minimum Programme which had clearly stated about following independent foreign policy. However the government violated this commitment by going ahead and signing the military, economic and nuclear agreements with the United States during prime minister's visit to Washington three years back. The Left has been saying since then that it can't be part of a government which made India a junior partner to US imperialism. In fact, the Left tried its best to prevent the fall of this government by making efforts through the UPA-Left committee on nuclear deal. However with the government proceeding to operationalise the deal, the Left had to withdraw support, he said.
Karat demanded an answer from the Congress party as to what led to the violation of senior-most minister Pranab Mukherjee's assurance to the nation about not going to IAEA until the trust vote was done. “We cannot doubt the integrity of Pranab Mukherjee. As he himself stated, he made that assurance only after talking to the prime minister. So what transpired in the meeting with president Bush that this assurance was betrayed? The prime minister must answer. The majority in parliament had clearly expressed their opposition to the deal. But violating this the government went ahead to IAEA. Can such a thing happen in a democracy? ”, questioned Karat.
Karat traced all the anti-people economic policies being pursued by the Manmohan Singh government to the pressure brought upon it by the United States. He cited how the Manmohan Singh government wanted to allow foreign direct investment in retail, agriculture and education sectors under the pressure of US government and its big companies like Walmart.
Referring to those who till the other day were giving speeches against the nuclear deal but now joined hands with the Congress to facilitate the passage of the deal, Karat said they would repent this somersault. He concluded by calling for taking the dangers of the deal among the people. “The deal is difficult to understand. But one must make an effort to do so because it is linked to our livelihoods also. The small shopkeepers, workers, kisans etc have to be told that their livelihoods are linked to defeating this deal”, he said. Karat expressed confidence that in the coming period more parties would join the struggle against the nuclear deal.
CPI general secretary A B Bardhan in his speech pooh poohed government's campaign about the deal meeting the energy demands of the country. The fact is that as of now the share of nuclear power in the total energy production is a mere 2 - 3 per cent and post deal it may at best go up to 7 - 9 per cent. So the remaining 90 per cent of our energy needs can be met only through thermal or hydro power. Moreover there is the threat of dealing with nuclear waste. He charged the government of neglecting the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline because of fear that it may anger US president George Bush. Referring to Congress party fielding 11 additional spokespersons to campaign on this issue, Bardhan said the Left accepts this challenge.
Bardhan alleged that the government was trying to cover up the issue of price rise by bringing to the forefront the nuclear deal issue. The common man is reeling under the rising prices much more than the high inflation figure of nearly 12 per cent suggested because that figure is based on wholesale price index. He criticised the prime minister for ignoring the concrete suggestions of the Left parties for curbing the price rise.
Terming the present government a minority government, he said it had no right to move the IAEA for finalising the Safeguards Agreement. He charged the ruling dispensation of indulging in horse trading in order to win the trust vote and said reports of astronomical figures of Rs 25 crore being offered to each MP were doing the rounds. Bardhan concluded by saying that the August 20 general strike was part of the ongoing struggle and it must be made a huge success.
RSP general secretary T J Chandrachoodan said that the Left was compelled to withdraw support to the UPA government because it was systematically violating the understanding with the Left parties on the basis of which they were extending support in the first place. He charged the Congress party of violating the coalition dharma. The government and Congress cheated not only the Left but the entire people of the country on this issue, he said.
Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas in his speech criticised the media for trying to depict the ongoing struggle as a fight between personalities rather than policies. He asserted that the Left will not allow the nation becoming enslaved once again, both in terms of foreign policy or economic policy.
CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat, CPI deputy general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy and secretaries D Raja and Amarjeet Kaur, RSP secretary Abani Roy were also present on the dais. CPI(M) Delhi state secretary P M S Grewal along with Delhi state secretaries of CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP acted as the presidium for the meeting.
(N S Arjun)