People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 32

August 08, 2010

KERALA

 

Massive Picketings to Combat Centreís Policies

 

K K Ragesh

 

IN Kerala, the CPI(M) organised on July 28 massive picketings at selected central government offices against the unprecedented hikes in the prices of petroleum products and in general the escalating prices of essential commodities because of the policies of the central government. The picketings were organised in all the 194 area centres throughout the state, and lakhs of activists, workers, youth and students participated in the action. The massive action programme commenced in the morning and continued till the afternoon. All the government offices where the picketing was organised, remained closed. The action thus cautioned the central government against unleashing assault on the people with its retrograde policies.

 

It will be recalled that immediately after the announcement of hikes in the prices of petroleum prices, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala had called for a dawn to dusk hartal, through which the people of the state spontaneously expressed their fury against the UPA-II governmentís anti-people move. Again after two weeks, another hartal was organised in the state as part of the countrywide hartal call given by the Left parties.

 

As for Kerala in particular, the fact is that any increase in the prices of petrol and diesel consequently augments the prices of all essential commodities, and one of the worst victims is the state of Kerala which depends mainly on other states for procurement of essential commodities. It is also a fact that the LDF government has been persistently making efforts, through its model and effective public distribution system (PDS), to soften the impact of price hikes caused by central governmentís policies. However, it is obvious that all such efforts will be in vain if the UPA government time and again imposes such disastrous policies upon the people. This was why the CPI(M) decided to launch persistent struggles against the central governmentís policies that are heaping indescribable burdens upon the common people and, moreover, allowing the corporate houses to loot the common people.

 

The recent picketings were in continuation with the CPI(M)ís struggles on the issue.

 

In the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, picketing was organised in 17 centres and the partyís Polit Bureau member and state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated picketing at the RMS office in the city. On this occasion, Vijayan exposed the anti-people policies of the UPA government and demonstrated how the central government caters to the concerns of corporate houses in the general public expenditure. He said that the central governmentís policies are designed to serve the interest of the capitalist class and it is the common masses who really suffer on account of such policies. While imposing an additional burden of Rs 60,000 crore upon the people in the last budget, the UPA government declared a direct tax exemption of 26,000 crore rupees for the rich. Even though, at the chief ministersí conference, all the chief ministers, including those of the Congress ruled states, demanded that the centre take immediate actions to curb the price rise, the prime minister was reluctant to respond. On the contrary, the UPA government outrageously increased the prices of the petroleum products and the prime minister was seen shamelessly justifying this callous act of his government. It is ridiculous that the prime minister talks of the additions in the wealth of Indian billionaires at a time 76 per cent of the population earn merely 20 rupees a day and live under extreme disadvantaged conditions. While the figure of billionaires has crossed the three dozen mark, the poor are on the other hand getting increasingly marginalised everyday.

 

Pinarayi also urged upon the workers to make the September 7 all-India strike a big success and to widen and strengthen the ongoing movement. The strike call is very significant because even those sections which supported the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections have come forward to express their discontent against the UPA policies. Now that the UPA government is not dependent upon the Left support, it is pushing with a vengeance its policy of divestment of the public sector undertakings (PSUs), including the profit making units. During the last fiscal the government made Rs 25,000 crore by divesting the PSUs and during the current fiscal it aims to garner another Rs 40,000 crore. In fact, the UPA governmentís endeavour is to dismantle even those PSUs that are having huge turnovers every year. This is the reason that has compelled even the pro-Congress organisations to support the September 7 strike.

 

Unlike the central governmentís policies, the LDF government in Kerala has been pursuing alternative, pro-people policies and using the limited powers of the state government to rush relief to the people to the extent possible. In this context, Pinarayi Vijayan also highlighted how the LDF government in Kerala has pursued alternative policies in all sectors through its public distribution system, state PSUs, and through its numerous schemes in regard to public health, education, agriculture and general welfare schemes including the welfare pensions. In order to materialise such amazing achievements, the LDF government has to combat the menace of the central governmentís policies including the policies that have resulted in unprecedented price rises amid the global economic recession.

 

The picketing was inaugurated by A Vijayaraghavan, T Sivadasa Menon, M V Govindan Master, M C Josephine, V V Dakshinamoorthy, Anathalavattam Anandan and many other state and district leaders at various centres. Massive picketings were organized at 18 centres in Kannur district, 17 centres in Kollam and Eranakulam districts, 16 centres in Thrissur, 15 centres in Kozhikkode, Malappuram and Idukki, 11 centres in Alappuzha, 10 centres in Pathanamthitta, 9 centres in Kasaragod and 5 centres in Wayanad. Picketing was organised in Mahe also, which is part of the union territory of Pondicherry.

 

The success of these blockades came as a culmination of extensive preparations and campaigns. Week long jathas (processions) in all the 194 areas were organised from July 18 to 25, and they  covered every nook and corner of the state. Numerous public meetings were also organised in order to explain to the people how the pro-rich policies of the central government are resulting in the unrelenting price rises and how such policies are jeopardising the life and livelihood of the downtrodden. These meetings also elucidated how the alternative policies of the Left, being implemented by the LDF government of Kerala, are setting a new standard of governance in favour of the common man. They made it clear that the UPA government and its policy makers have to realise the anger and anguish of the common people who are the victims of their policies and indeed have no other option other but resorting to struggles and making sacrifices in order to combat and resist their anti-people policies.