People's Democracy

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


No. 49

December 06, 2009


Massive Rally Demands Food for All



BANGALORE witnessed a huge rally organised by the Left parties on 25 November. A massive gathering of about 40,000 people was addressed by Prakash Karat, general secretary of CPI(M). Others who addressed included Sudharkara Reddy, deputy general secretary of CPI, Devarajan, national secretariat member of All India Forward Bloc and other leaders of the Left parties of Karnataka.

People from different parts of the state, from Bidar to Kolar, participated in the rally and public meeting  at Freedom Park in Bangalore. Voices of the working class braved the hot sun and the slogans demanding food security for all were reverberating the streets of the city and also drew the attention of common public. Red flag bearing working class participated in a the rally to listen to their leaders and to warn the Congress government at the Centre and BJP government in the state on the issue of price rise. Stream of people holding red flags kept on coming inside the park even as the meting was coming to an end in the afternoon. Though the media did not cover the event effectively, �Red�s March drives city Red� reported the headline of the Bangalore Mirror of Times of India, although in a different tone.

There was splendid response from the people when the CPI(M) and mass organisations undertook campaign throughout the state. Slogans like �ration cards for all, ration for all card holders� �35kg rice, wheat etc at Rs2 per kg for every small family� etc attracted the people. The common people who have been struggling to live with ever-spiraling food prices were all receptive to the campaign. A common question in the streets was: �Why the government is allowing rise in food prices, and on the other hand, is squeezing the wages of the workers?�

While elaborating the distress situation faced by both the urban and rural poor due to price rise, VJK Nair, secretary of Karnataka CPI(M) said that Karnataka stands 11th in the hunger index in the country. He recalled the �Garibi Hatao� slogan of Indira Gandhi during emergency and said that today�s poverty is an evidence for how fake the slogan was.

Prakash Karat in his inaugural address said that the three  urgent issues of  price rise, drought and flood relief, and food security were raised with the UPA government but it did not take any steps to address these issues. It has not taken any measures to contain the ever-spiraling food prices. Prices of essential commodities like rice, dal, sugar, vegetables, etc. have sky-rocketed and are beyond the reach of common people.

He pointed out that prices of the essential commodities have not been rising as a result of fall in production or scarcity of food grains. Rise in prices is a result of speculation in food and other essential commodities. Future trading, which has been allowed by BJP government earlier and UPA now, has brought the situation to a serious stage. The need of the hour is to protect the people from hunger which requires strengthening of public distribution system. But the central government is about to bring a new legislation ostensibly to provide food security! The proposed legislation seeks to provide 25 kg of rice or wheat for a BPL family at Rs 3 per kg. About seven states have already been distributing food grains at Rs 2 per kg. Tamilnadu is providing at Rs. 1 per kg. In Anthyodaya scheme, 35 kgs is already being provided but the central government�s legislation seeks to cut the ration by 10 kg and further increase the price.

Prakash Karat said that BJP government in Karnataka is giving rice at Rs 3 per kg for BPL families. It is not ready to provide a subsidy of Rs 1 per kg. The government  should provide rice at Rs 2 per kg, he demanded. India has the largest number of hungry people in the world. About 45 per cent children in India are malnourished. In such an acute condition, it is the duty of the government to provide food for all. It should stop dividing people into BPL, APL, etc. As per the government norms, majority of the people do not come under BPL. As before, government should go back to universal PDS which provided food for all. He also condemned the role of BJP as a major opposition party in the country.

Attacking the Mine mafia which is looting the mines and other natural resources of the country, he said that huge profits have been made by illegal mining. During his visit to the US, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited the American MNCs to loot our resources. FDI is invited in retail sector; profit making PSUs are being disinvested.

More than 2 lakhs farmers committed suicide in the last 13 years. Agriculture is opened up to MNCs. ASEAN pact has made it possible to flood the Indian market with ASEAN made cheap agricultural and food products, he said.

Prakash Karat concluded by saying that Left Parties are organising campaign throughout the nation. The campaign would intensify further. The governments dictated by the neo-liberal policies do not have concern for the people affected by flood and drought and a strong movement can only defeat the anti-people policies of the government.

Sudharkara Reddy, deputy general secretary of CPI said, that when the prices of essential commodities are rising sharply, the government is concerned with reducing the number of eligible people from the BPL category. This shows the attitude of the government towards the issues of the people, he said.

Devarajan, national secretariat member, All India Forward Bloc said that both the central and state governments are more worried about creating profits for the rich than providing food to the common man. The Left parties would continue to wage a relentless struggle against this attitude of ruling class.

GV SriRam Reddy, state secretariat member, CPI(M), Siddanagowda Patil, CPI state secretary, GR Shivashankar, state president, AIFB and Varalakshmi, state committee member, CPI(M) also spoke on the occasion.

Later, Sri Lakshmana Savadi, minister for co-operation, came to the place of rally and received the memorandum. He declared on the spot that December 28 has been fixed to hold a discussion with Chief Minister Yedyurappa on these issues with the leaders of the Left parties.

A signature campaign calling for destruction of nuclear weapons to create a peaceful world was also carried out during the rally.

This historic campaign and rally is just the beginning and CPI(M) and Left parties have planned to carry on sustained struggles on this burning issue in the coming months of January, March and May 2010.