People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 42

October 18, 2009

TAMILNADU CONVENTION ON FOOD, PRICE RISE

 

One Lakh to Court Arrest on Nov 17

M K Pandhe addressing the joint convention of CPI(M) and CPI on Right to Food in Chennai.


 A A Nainar

 

THE venue of the state level convention demanding right to food for the suffering poor people was overflowing with determined cadres of the Left parties and general public in Chennai. Their anger against the callous attitude of the central and state governments, which had failed to check the steep rise in prices of all essential commodities, got more pronounced after hearing the fiery speeches of the all India and local leaders of the CPI(M) and the CPI. 

 

The convention was held on 7 October as a part of the call given by the national convention on right to food held that was held in New Delhi on 26 August to build up a nationwide struggle forcing the ruling classes to change their anti-people policies, urgently with regard to the food situation prevalent in the country. The Chennai district committee of CPI(M) and CPI had jointly hosted this convention.

 

G Ramakrishnan, Central Committee member of the CPI(M) and C Mahendran, deputy general secretary of the CPI presided over the convention. G Beema Rao, CPI(M) south Chennai district secretary welcomed the gathering.  The resolution moved by G Ramakrishnan  demanding food security, seeking reduction of prices of essential commodities and suggesting ways and means to achieve them was adopted with thunderous applause.

 

M K Pandhe, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M) started his speech by saying that the price rise is manmade and government’s policies alone are responsible for the misery of the common man. He made a forceful plea to ban ‘futures trading’ in essential commodities and for strengthening the public distribution system. He criticised the media for showing extra interest on the ups and downs of the ‘Sensex’ movement on daily basis while ignoring the soaring prices of essential commodities. The economic meltdown and the impact of it on the common man were dealt in detail by Pandhe. He demanded a stimulus package for ordinary people who are the worst affected because of the crisis. He narrated how on the one hand 48 ‘dollar billionaires’ have amassed assets equal to 25 per cent of our GDP and on the other hand, India ranks 66 out of 88 countries in the Global Hunger Index.  He added that the working class in India is organising a national protest day on 28 October in which even the INTUC and BMS were compelled to join the struggle because of the present pitiable conditions of the workers. He also stated that when a delegation of working class leaders met the prime minister recently to urge him to reverse the harmful policies of the UPA government, he expressed surprise at the presence of the INTUC representatives in the delegation, while not making any commitment on the demands made by the union leaders. Pandhe exhorted the audience to carry forward the struggle relentlessly to ensure food security.

 

A B Bardhan, general secretary, CPI recalled that the Left parties withdrew their support to the previous UPA government not only on the issue of the nuclear deal with US but also for its failure to control the prices.  As such, the present struggle is only a continuation of the one that began last year.  He explained in detail how the global economic crises affected the poor the most. D Pandian, state secretary, CPI dwelt at length about the anti-people measures of the ruling DMK government in Tamilnadu.  He made a fervent plea to mobilise large number of people throughout Tamilnadu to fill the jails during the picketing programme being organised before the government offices on 17 November.

 

N Varadarajan, state secretary of CPI(M) congratulated the Party organisations of both the Left parties in Chennai for the successful conduct of the convention.  He gave statistics and compared the prices of the essential commodities that were prevailing just two months ago with the current prices.  He blamed both the central and state governments for the sky-rocketing of prices of all commodities.  He recalled that when the previous UPA regime went ahead with its decision to disinvest the Neyveli Lignite Corporation, the Left put up stiff resistance and the DMK which was part of the government threatened to pull out of it if the disinvestment decision was not rolled back.  He wondered why the DMK is remaining a mute spectator now when people’s livelihood is seriously jeopardized by the unprecedented rise in prices.

 

In the concluding speech of the convention, Varadarajan gave a clarion call for mobilising one lakh people in the picketing programme to press for food security and to control the spiraling prices.  W R Varadarajan, Central Committee member of the CPI(M) and A M Gopu, National Council member of the CPI had also addressed the convention. The meeting ended with the vote of thanks proposed by S Elumalai, district secretary of the CPI.

 The resolution passed in the convention demanded the following:

1.                  Control prices of essential commodities and ban online trading in food articles.
2.                 Take stringent action against hoarders, speculators and black-marketers.

3.                 Withdraw the hike in the prices of petroleum products.
4.                 Streamline the distribution machinery to ensure that everyone gets the 20 Kilogram rice every month.
5.                 Make ration cards available to all eligible people and ensure that genuine beneficiaries are not deprived of such a facility in the fresh enumeration.
6.                 Ensure that edible oil, dal, sugar and other essential food articles are distributed through public distribution system.
7.                 Open special additional outlets through public distribution system and co-operative stores and make available essential commodities at subsidised rates during this festival season.