People's Democracy

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


No. 50

December 13, 2009


One Lakh People Arrested in Anti-Price Rise Movement

S P Rajendran


MORE than one lakh people including twenty thousand women , who marched with red flags in their hands, condemning the central and state governments for failing to check the rising prices of essential commodities, were arrested on December 7, in Tamilnadu.

Responding to the clarion call of the Left Parties to organise mass struggles to protect the food security of the toiling masses of the nation and to demand implementation of the alternatives like the universal public distribution system, thousands of cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India organised pickets in front of government offices.

All over the state, 350 centers including nine places in the capital city of Chennai witnessed strong protests.

Leaders including CPI (M) Central Committee members G Ramakrishnan, U Vasuki, CPI state secretary D Pandian and state secretariat members, state committee members, district secretaries, MPs and MLAs of both the parties led the protest and courted arrest.

Addressing the cadres, CPI (M) and CPI leaders alleged that hunger deaths were reported in many parts of the country as essential items, due to their spiraling prices, became inaccessible to the common man. They wanted the central government  to ensure right to livelihood and to arrest smugglers of essential commodities to create fear among those who smuggle and hoard food grains.

Attributing the price rise to wrong economic policies of the centre, the Left leaders said the state government was only playing a second fiddle to it. �It is the money collected from the smugglers and hoarders that is now being distributed to the voters during the by-election,� said the protesters.

The centre should consider the alternative economic policies put forth by the Left parties to contain price rise. The Left parties would step up their agitation if the centre failed to take concrete action on the issue.

Inflation on food grains had gone up by 18 per cent. In Tamilnadu, while the cost of pulses had gone beyond Rs 100, vegetables that were selling for Rs 10 a kg are now around Rs 40. The leaders wondered whether there would be any food security going by the trend of essential commodities' prices going beyond the reach of the poor and the middle class people.

The protesters raised the slogans that online trade in essential commodities must be immediately banned; fair price shops should be kept open all through the month and card holders should not be denied the Rs 1 per kg rice and all essential commodities must be disbursed through PDS outlets.

They also wanted the officials to distribute ration cards to all those who had applied and without any further delay. Genuine card holders should not be affected while undertaking the elimination of bogus cards. The protestors insisted that the subsidies suspended on cooking gas must be restored immediately.