People's Democracy

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


No. 06

February 07, 2010



Mandi Witnesses Anti-Price Rise Protest


Tikender Singh Panwar


ON January 23, at the call of the CPI(M) and the CPI, a powerful rally was held at the historic town of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, against the incessant price rise. Leaders of both the parties addressed the rally; these included CPI(M) central secretariat member A Vijayaraghavan, CPI national secretary Amarjeet Kaur, CPI(M) state secretary Rakesh Singha and CPI state secretary Desh Raj. CPI(M) state secretariat member Onkar Shad placed the resolution on future tasks. The public meeting began with a condolence resolution on the demise of Comrade Jyoti Basu; it was read out by Kashmir Singh Thakur. 

Speaking first at the rally, Des Raj lambasted the state government of BJP for abdicating from its responsibility of providing cheap ration to the people and, instead, throwing all the buck on the central government. He said both the Congress and BJP are equally responsible for the spiralling rise in prices in the country. The main speaker, A Vijayaraghavan, spoke in Hindi though he hails from distant Kerala. He said the child called price rise has two parents: the BJP and the Congress. Both are responsible for it. Whenever and wherever in government, both these parties have been following the neo-liberal policies which are responsible for the current bout of the severe price rise. While indicting the central government for the current situation on the prices front, he said the Congress is busy passing the responsibility on to various ministers and not looking for a solution even though the Left parties have suggested concrete measures for checking the price rise. Making a comparison of the rest of the country with Kerala, Vijayaraghavan said the Left Democratic Front government of Kerala has been able to keep strict control over the prices of essential items, with the help of a huge subsidy on these items, even though the state has to import large quantities of food grains from outside. Recently, Vijayaraghavan said, the LDF government of Kerala announced a subsidy of Rs 450 crore in order to meet the challenge of price rise.

Rakesh Singha said both the BJP and Congress are busy in diverting the attention of the people from the real issues and, therefore, talk more about the CDs in the state without uttering a word about the spiralling price rise. While both these partiers are engaged in a CD war, the speaker said the people have to engage in a war with the government as the latter has hit them the most. The state government has increased the bus fare by 15 per cent, which is the highest in the state. On the other hand, the ration quota that was being provided to all the families has been substantially reduced from 25 kg to 15 kg per family; the three kg quota of pulses per family has been reduced to just one kg while the edible oil quota had been cut by a litre. Singh urged upon the people to militantly protest against this situation and join the Left parties´┐Ż protest demonstrations outside the civil supplies corporations on February 1.

Amarjeet Kaur, the last speaker, asked the people to reach Delhi in thousands on March 12 in order to give a severe jolt to the government which is sleeping like the mythological Kumbhkaran.

The resolution on future tasks, placed by Onkar Shad, urged upon the people to protest in large numbers on February 1 in front of all the civil supply shops and the department throughout the state, and also to join the Delhi rally in thousands.

Kushal Bhardwaj conducted the proceedings.

The public meeting was preceded by a colourful march through the Mandi Bazaar, with different kinds of traditional folk bands being played throughout the march. The mobilisation was done only from the neighbouring districts like Kullu, Kangra, Hamirpur and Bilaspur. In fact, it was a state level convention, held at Hamirpur on October 28, which had given a call to hold mass rallies at two places in the state. Accordingly, the first rally was held at Shimla on December 11, while the Mandi rally was the second one. Now this is to be followed by militant protest demonstrations, as already stated. A massive campaign was launched prior to this rally. More than 50 thousand leaflets were distributed, 25000 posters pasted and several street corner meetings held. (INN)