(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 23, 2011
BACKSTAB ON THE FESTIVE DAY
CPI(M) Protests Petro Hike
THE CENTRE of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has strongly denounced the scam tainted UPA government’s shameless act of imposing fresh burden on common man through a hike of Rs 2.54 per litre in petrol price. It said it appears that the government is bent on recovering the money lost through mega scams like 2G spectrum scam, CWG scan etc from the pockets of common man by hook or by crook.
A CITU statement, issued on January 17, said it did not find any justification in the oft repeated false claim by the government that the price hike of Rs 5.50 per litre within a month since the last hike on December 15, 2010, is because of high international crude price. The present crude price of 92 dollars per barrel is equivalent to Rs 26 per litre, and thus it does not justify a petrol price of approximately Rs 59 per litre in Delhi.
The CITU has demanded that the government must reduce and rationalise its disproportionate and irrational taxation, which is the root cause of the high prices of petrol and diesel. For example, the central excise duty on petrol is Rs 14.35 per litre whereas it is Rs 2.75 per litre in case of the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) which is used in aircrafts. This is lower even than Rs 4.60 per litre in case of diesel, a product of mass consumption.
The CITU has also demanded that the cess of more than Rs 8000 crore, collected from the ONGC and OIL India by the government, must be used as the price stablisation fund to take care of the fluctuations in global crude oil prices without affecting the people through price rise. Another demand raised by the CITU is that the ONGC must not be made to shoulder the burden of royalty payment of thousands of crores for the crude oil produced by private oil companies like Messrs Cairn and others.
Deploring the deceptive tactics of fleecing the common man with the so called “market determined” prices for petroleum products, the CITU said the same government in a most arbitrary manner sold spectrums worth billions of rupees in 2008 at the abysmally low price that prevailed in 2001. It is preposterous for the present corporate-captive government to talk about recovering the “notional” amount of the so called under-recovery of public sector oil companies from the Aam Admi while their spokesmen, like Kapil Sibal and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, are justifying the loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in the spectrum scam, as a notional loss. The CITU said the government must first recover the proven under-recovery to public exchequer because of the scam in the sale of 2G telecom spectrums instead of burdening the Aam Admi with regular dosages of petro price hikes on the plea of absolutely notional “under-recoveries” of oil PSUs.
The CITU has urged the working class to expose the deceit and deception of the government. It has demanded withdrawal of the hike in petrol price and end of the present pricing anarchy in the name of deregulation of petroleum pricing.
The central executive committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has asked all its units to organise protests against the anti-people petrol price hike announced by the government. This is for the second time in a month that the price of petrol has been raised; only a month ago the petrol price had been raised by Rs 3 per litre. What is shocking, the DYFI said, is that this has happened at a time when the people are reeling under the spiralling inflation and the government has totally failed in controlling prices.
In the given scenario the whole drama, staged by the prime minister and his cabinet, of holding meetings to curb inflation stands exposed, as this move of raising petrol price by almost Rs 6 per litre within a month will cause misery for a majority of our people.
While demanding a rollback of the petrol price hike, the DYFI has urged upon the youth and the people to join protests against this anti-people move on January 19.
instant reaction, the transport workers of West Bengal
observed a three hour shut down against the petrol price hike on January
17. The CITU called for a stoppage of
transport for three hours from 12pm to 3pm throughout the state. Just
all means of public transport came to a standstill in Kolkata and other
districts. Busses, mini buses, auto rickshaws, taxis joined in the
many bus depots, workers gathered and demonstrated against the central
government’s policy of deregulating the prices of petro products.
Chakraborty, state president of the CITU castigated Trinamul Congress
too, for its
support to the anti-people policies of the centre, which is also
for sky rocketing prices of almost every item of livelihood. The strike
spontaneous and near total in the whole state.
IRKED by the widespread protest against the steep increase in the petrol price, the DMK government of Tamilnadu unleashed on January 18 a brutal police attack on the DYFI cadre at Chennai and Salem.
On Tuesday morning, responding to the call of the DYFI CEC to protest the petrol price hike, hundreds of youth from North and South Chennai gathered in front of the Southern Region headquarters of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) at Nungampakkam in Chennai. DYFI state vice president L Shanmugasundaram, state joint secretary Lenin and others led the protest.
Immediately, however, the police force mobilised for the occasion started its brutal attack on the youth and lathicharged them. Eight DYFI cadre, namely Murali, Suresh, Kumaran, Mani, Ramesh, Udhaya, Suresh and Jayanth, were heavily injured. More than 60 were arrested.
Traffic was disrupted on Nungambakkam High Road for a while due to the protest.
In the western city of Salem, cadre of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) staged a dharna in front of the BSNL office to protest against the steep hike in the price of petrol on the day before, i.e. January 17. the DYFI’s urban unit secretary Praveenkumar and others led the agitation. When the police told them to disperse, they refused and after were arrested a lathicharge and scuffle.
Earlier the cadres came in bullock carts and cycles to the venue of agitation and blocked traffic on five roads.
The state committee of the DYFI condemned the government and the police for the lathicharges on its members when they were staging peaceful protest. The DYFI said it would organise demonstrations across the state to condemn the police action.
The state committee of the CPI(M) also condemned the police action against the DYFI members. CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan said the police lathicharges on the DYFI members were unprovoked. He added that oil companies should not be allowed to fix the fuel prices. Ramakrishnan appealed to the people to raise their voice against the fuel price hike to pressurise the centre for its rollback.
DYFI cadre across the state staged dharnas and demonstrations condemning the police brutality as well as petrol price hike.
Cadre of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also staged demonstrations against the petrol price rise across the state. At Chennai, state secretary G Ramakrishnan, state secretariat member P Selva Singh and district leaders addressed a massive and novel protest. Here, G Ramakrishnan and others pulled a bullock cart which was tied to an auto-rickshaw.
At Coimbatore, the CPI(M)’s Lok Sabha member P R Natarajan and district secretary U K Vellingiri addressed a massive demonstration. State leaders participated in protest actions at various places.
(S P Rajendran)
Just on the eve of Pongal festival, the central government gave a shock to the people by raising the price of petrol yet again, thus putting unbearable burden on the poor and middle classes who are already reeling under spiraling price rise.
Protesting this hike in petrol, the CPI(M) Andhra Pradesh state committee conducted dharnas across the state. Party state secretariat members Y Venkateswarlu and S Veeraiah, addressing the protests in different parts, condemned the UPA-II government for raising the petroleum prices seven times in 2010, and continuing that in the New Year also. In fact, they are trying to surpass their record of 2010 by raising the prices twice in a single month’s time. Immediately after getting to know of the hike, an effigy of the central government was burnt under the leadership of CPI(M) at RTC cross roads in Hyderabad on January 16, 2011. As a symbolic gesture against the rise of the petroleum prices and the consequent unaffordability of the same for the common man, a motor bike was brought on a cart that was pushed manually by the CPI(M) cadres.
The entire state witnessed protests against the hike. Political parties including CPI(M), CPI, TDP and Lok Satta (at some places) participated in these protests. An effigy of the UPA-II government was burnt at Vijayawada under the leadership of the CPI(M) city committee. Road blockade and a rally were held at Vizag and an effigy of the sky high prices was burnt. Road blockade was organised in Araku valley also. Effigy burnings, rallies, and road blockades were organised at Nalgonda, Suryapet, Samsthan Narayan pur and Bhongiri of the Nalgonda district. At Mehboobabad town of Warangal district, effigy of the central government was burnt. Road blockade was held at Janagam Road. Blockades and rallies were organised in Khammam town and Bhadrachalam. Sit-outs and road blockades were organised at many places of the Chittoor district including pilgrim town of Tirupathi. Medak district joined the protests in a large way. Protests reverberated at Mahboobnagar district center. Kurnool district too joined the protests in its novel ways, wherein Bangi Anantaih, ex-mayor of the city, expressed his protest against the petroleum price rise by tonsuring his head. Anantapur, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Nizamabad districts too joined the protests in a big way.
ON January 18, hundreds of activists of the CPI(M) from across the Kashmir valley staged a protest demonstration at Pratap Park in Srinagar, carrying banners and placards against the price rises, power failure and non-availability of essential commodities. The youth among the protestors were raising slogans that demanded a guarantee of livelihood to the educated unemployed youth.
Addressing the rally, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that under the deregulation system, in the space of one month, the price of petrol had been increased twice by Rs 2.96 and Rs 2.52 per litre. The deregulation of prices is meant to help the private oil companies and put the people at the mercy of a market that is controlled by the oil multinationals and domestic corporate houses. The economic policies of the government have pushed more than 50 per cent of the population into extreme poverty, Tarigami said, adding that the government’s recent decision of opening up the retail trade to big MNCs would further worsen the already sad plight of the common people.
Maintaining that the relentless rise in the prices of essential commodities, particularly food items, has hit the people hard, the CPI(M) leader said that wage earners and the urban and rural poor are finding it difficult to provide food for their families. The prices of onions and other vegetables have become prohibitive. The food inflation rate in the last week of December stood at 18.32 per cent. The government is continuously weakening the public distribution system (PDS). It has failed to legislate a comprehensive food security law and launch a dehoarding drive against the black-marketers. Forward trading and relaxation of Essential Commodities Act are the key causes of the current spell of price rise, he said, demanding that the government must create a mechanism against unscrupulous traders who create artificial scarcities in a bid to jack up prices. It is high time that our people get ready to fight the price rise and link it with the fight for reversal of the course of economic neo-liberalism, the real cause of people’s miseries, Tarigami said, adding that the price rise, unemployment and even corruption are the inevitable by-products of economic neo-liberalism.
J&K Kisan Tehreek General Secretary of G N Malik said no section of the society has remained unaffected due to the wrong policies of the present government. He said the farmers, growers and the labourers were the worst hit due to the wrong economic agenda implemented by the government. Malik demanded all basic inputs for the farming community and hike in the wages of the labourers of both organised and unorganised sectors. He also demanded huge public investment in the agriculture sector, keeping in view the fact that a majority of our population depends on it. Maintaining that corruption has penetrated every sphere of administration, Malik said that accountability and transparency have got lost in wilderness, which has made the delivery system ineffective and anti-people.
While addressing the rally, senior leaders Mohd Afzal Parrey and S G H Nakashbandi, lashed at the government for the erratic power supply and non-availability of daily needs in far-off areas. They demanded that the government must sensitise the field functionaries to provide respite to the people during the ongoing winter in the valley.