People's Democracy

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


No. 34

August 22, 2010



Prakash Karat Lashes out at UPA Govt


S P Rajendran

R Sindhan


WHEN a huge number of people in India go to bed hungry every day and suffer malnutrition, it is shocking that six crore tonnes of food grains are rotting in our FCI godowns, being eaten up by rats. So said Prakash Karat, lashing out at the UPA government and demanding food security for our citizens. It seems only rats have food security under the UPA government, he quipped.


The general secretary of the CPI(M) was addressing a huge public meeting at Tirupur, the garment city of Tamilnadu on August 4. This was the beginning of the August Campaign of the party in Tamilnadu.


The state committee of the party had decided to conduct an extensive campaign in the month of August on a charter of demands. These include a comprehensive food security legislation to provide 35 kg of food grains to every family at Rs 2 per kilo, make the public distribution system universal, and distribute the food stocks accumulated in godowns to feed the people. The campaign would also press the demand of free house pattas for the poor and those related to education, power and drinking water.


Prakash Karat started the campaign at Tirupur and it will culminate with huge public rallies at six centres. From August 22 to 29, more than 3000 teams of the CPI(M) members will approach 50 lakhs families across the state through area level and unit level padayatras. Street corner meetings at more than 3000 centres will be held. Then, from August 30 to September 5, there will be massive rallies at Chennai, Salem, Neyveli, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Kovilpatti. Top leaders of the party including  S Ramachandran Pillai, Sitaram Yechury, K Varadharajan and Brinda Karat and state secretary G Ramakrishnan will take part in these meetings.


At the meeting in Tirupur, Prakash Karat explained a wide range of issues related to price rise and the UPA government’s anti-people policies. He said all over India, from north to south, people are facing the problem of extraordinary rises in the prices of food and other essential commodities. Yet, in parliament, the government refused to accept its failure in curbing the price rises. In fact, it is the government policies which have led to such unprecedented price rises, for which it refuses to take responsibility. On the contrary, it allows the speculators to jack up the prices. That is why there can be no end to price rise under this government with its neo-liberal policies that are damaging the life and livelihood of millions of our people. 


Labour laws exists in our country but are not applied in the factories, Karat said. Workers’ unions have always fought for an 8 hour working day but today large sections of our workers, particularly in the unorganised sector, are perforce working for 14 hours a day without any overtime benefits. In many industries, it has become compulsory to work 12 hours without overtime. Thus the exploitation of the working class has increased enormously. On September 7, the working class of India is going to strike to demand implementation of the labour laws.


Along with that, shares of the most profitable public sector enterprises are being sold for a song. Recently, in the Lok Shaba, the government got a bill passed to reduce its stake in the State Bank of India from 55 to 51 per cent. That means the bank will become private if only another two per cent of its shares are sold.


All this is under the pressure of the USA, with which we now have a strategic partnership. The Indo-Us CEO forum sits and decides something which then becomes the government of India’s policy. They demanded that our banking and insurance sectors should be opened for their loot; they are demanding retail trade in India to be open up to the multinational companies. It is in tune with their demands that our government then puts forward its proposals. 


In July 2008, we warned that our alliance with the US would affect our vital interests and our national sovereignty. That is getting conformed now. The government is out to enact the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill into a law. It means if there is any nuclear accident in a reactor supplied by an American supplier, the liabilities for this will not rest on the foreign company. Some 26 years ago, a horrible industrial accident took place in the Union Carbide factory at Bhopal. More than 25,000 of our people have died. But we have been unable to get adequate compensation from the Union Carbide. Now this government is out to make a law to exempt the American and foreign companies from paying any compensation. In the Indo-US nuclear deal, this was a hidden commitment made to the US. But, Karat said, we will not allow this bill to be passed as it means sacrificing the interests of our people, their life and safety.


Along with the price rise, we also see an increase in corruption in all levels. More than 40 thousand crores of rupees are being spent to host the Commonwealth Games in India. But it involves massive corruption. If an equipment costs Rs one lakh, they are buying it for Rs 10 lakh. Renovation of a stadium in Delhi cost Rs 680 crore. But our prime minister refuses to take action even when a case of corruption comes out into the open. A Raja, a minister from Tamilnadu, was directly involved in the massive telecom scandal involving the 2G spectrum. Though his corruption was proved, the prime minister didn't take any action against him. Even now, on the Commonwealth games scandal, when all the documentation is available to prove it, the government says, "let the games take place, after that we would see what is the truth.” This means public fund would continue to be looted for two more months. We can't allow that, Karat said.


The nature of corruption under the Congress led government is such that the PDS ration for the poor  is being siphoned out and sold with impunity. Similar things are taking place in various government schemes, posing a serious threat in our country’s development.


Today, the nexus between big business and politics is threatening our democracy. We see crores of rupees being spent in one single constituency even in a byelection. Recently, we saw it in case of Rajya Sabha elections. In Rajasthan, the CPI(M) has three MLAs. The businessmen, put up by some of the parties as their candidates, approached the leader of our party’s assembly group and offered to pay Rs 10 crore if he and other two MLAs voted for a certain candidate. But all our MLAs stayed away from that election. They refused to sell themselves and be a part of such corrupt methods. The same thing happened in Bihar. Bourgeois parties are responsible for bringing big money into the electoral process. Those parties are offering tickets to big businessmen. This is posing a serious danger to our democratic system. It is affecting our media too, through the “paid news” phenomenon.


Karat flayed the corrupt practices of the Congress led UPA government and of the Congress and BJP led state governments, adding that we have to fight against this trend as well. Only by conducting such struggles can we succeed. He assured that the CPI(M) and other Left parties would always take up the real issues facing the people and fight for their real demands.


CPI(M) district secretary K Kamaraj presided over the meeting while state secretary G Ramakrishnan, Central Committee member T K Rangarajan and state secretariat member K Thangavel also spoke.