People's Democracy

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


No. 48

November 29, 2009



Bhubaneswar Witnesses Huge Left Rally


                                                   Dusmanta Kumar Das


ON November 25, the Orissa state units of the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc organised a huge protest rally at Bhubaneswar, the state�s capital. Addressing this huge joint rally, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat criticised the central and state governments for failing to check the excruciating rise in prices and more particularly in the prices of essential commodities. He told that the first step the Congress led UPA-2 government took was to increase the prices of diesel by Rs 2 per litre and of petrol by Rs 4 per litre. The public distribution system (PDS) has failed miserably. While eight state governments including Orissa and West Bengal are providing rice at Rs 2 per kg, the central government has announced to provided rice at Rs 3 per kg and also reduced the quantity of rice per family by 10 kg supplied under the Antyodaya programme. Since the central government has failed to purchase food grains at remunerative prices from the farmers and has left the business in the hands of the multinationals, corporate houses and monopoly capital, the latter are ruling the roost and actually deciding the prices. He told that the categories of below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL) were introduced to deprive the poor people of regular and subsidised ration. It was the present prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who introduced this differentiation when he was the finance minister in the 1990s. Criticising the proposed food security bill which is aimed to deprive more people of subsidised ration, Karat demanded that the central government remove the APL-BPL distinction and provide 14 essential items through PDS to all the needy people.

While expressing concern at the increasing farmers� suicide cases in the state, he told that it reflects the miserable plight of the farmers due to poverty, severe drought leading to loss of crops, non-availability of irrigation facility (only 22 per cent in the state), absence of remunerative prices for the crops and, most important of all, the heavy debt burden. He demanded that farmers� loans should be waived and while doing so, the loans from private institutions and moneylenders should be included, just like the steps the Kerala LDF government has taken. The plight of peasants has deteriorated due to the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the central government since the early 1990s. As a result, the cost of inputs has increased. All these things, taken together, have resulted in a situation where more than 2 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the country in the last eight years.

Dealing with the problems of tribals, Karat told that notwithstanding the decision of the Supreme Court the tribals are getting evicted from forestlands whereas they should have been given the right over these lands. While the government is taking pride in 9 per cent GDP growth till last year, the reality is that 77 per cent people of our country don't have an income of more than Rs 20 a day. But, instead of taking steps to improve their purchasing power, Dr Manmohan Singh has invited the US Chambers of Commerce and the MNCs to come to India for investment and the bank, insurance, retailed trade and defence sectors will be opened up for the FDI. Since all these decisions are emanating from the anti-working class, anti-peasant policies of the central government. The working people�s standard of living cannot be changed for better without rebuffing these neo-liberal policies. That is why the Left parties --- the CPI(M),CPI, FB and RSP --- have decided to organise more action programmes involving greater number of people, to fight these anti-people policies. For the purpose, Karat urged the people to organise more such actions in future.

A B Bardhan, general secretary of the CPI, condemned the situation of skyrocketing prices. While expressing concern for the rise in farmers� suicide cases, he urged upon the government to take immediate redressal measures to check such occurrences. FB reader and West Bengal minister Naren Deb called upon the people to organise greater protest action to change anti- people policies of the central and state governments.

Earlier, a huge colourful procession of about 30 thousand people started from Bhubaneswar railway station to coverage in a rally in front of the state assembly. A presidium consisting of Sivaji Patnaik, Asish Kanungo and Sarat Mansingh conducted the meeting. Others who spoke in the meeting included CPI(M) state secretary Janardan Pati, secretariat members Jagannath Mishra and Santosh Das, CPI state secretary Divakar Naik, Bibhu Torai, MP, and FB state secretary Santosh Mitra.




FOR the last few months, cases of suicide by peasants have been occurring all over the state of Orissa. By the time of filing this report, the death toll had touched 33. It reflects the acute agrarian crisis and the plight of the peasants in the state.

Farmer suicide cases are occurring due to the abject poverty, heavy debt burden of farmers, increased cost of inputs for agriculture, non-remunerative prices of agricultural products, lack of irrigation and severe drought like situation in many parts of the state. This is the resultant effect of the anti-farmer policies both the central and state governments are pursuing. The state government, instead of taking urgent measures to tackle the deteriorating plight of the farmers, has shown a lackadaisical attitude towards the problem. The caricature of the situation made by the state�s agriculture minister adds insult to the injury.

In the context, the CPI(M) in the state organised a dharna in front of the state assembly on November 18, the opening day of its winter session. Addressing the public participating in the dharna, the CPI(M)�s Orissa state committee secretary Janardan Pati demanded a compensation of Rs five lakh to the family of each of the victims, waiving of loans owed by small, marginal and middle peasants, and employment to one of the dependants of each victim�s family. A 17-point memorandum was given to the chief minister wherein short-term and long-term measures were proposed to be undertaken by the government to meet the situation leading to farmers� death and the overall agrarian crisis. Sivaji Patnaik, veteran leader of the party and ex-MP, and other leaders of the party also spoke in the meeting. State secretariat member Jagannath Mishra presided over the meeting. (INN)