(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 13, 2011
CALL TO THE BENGAL, KERALA MASSES
Defeat the Anti-People UPA’s Constituents!
CALLING upon the people of West Bengal and Kerala to ensure the victory of the Left Front (LF) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the coming assembly polls in their respective states, CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat, underlined in a recent press conference that the Left is set to fight against the Congress party and its allies, like the Trinamul Congress (TMC), in these states. He said that these parties, pitted against the Left alignment, are partners in the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) whose anti-people policies have led to sharp rises in the prices of essential commodities, attacked the livelihood of the toiling masses and given rise to corruption on a large scale. The CPI(M) general secretary also drew attention to the glorious performance of the Left led governments in defending the interests of the people, in three states in contrast to the poor record of the Congress and its allies at the centre and in states where they are in power. That is why the CPI(M) has urged the people of West Bengal and Kerala to ensure the victory of Left led alliances in these states.
Karat made this point while addressing the mediapersons at the CPI(M) headquarters in New Delhi on March 6, after the two-day meeting of the Central Committee of the party on March 4 and 5.
Replying to the queries coming from the mediapersons, the CPI(M) leader made it clear that large-scale corruption and scams would be an important issue in the upcoming elections to five state assemblies. On the question of allegations of corruption labelled against the son of the Kerala chief minister, Karat reminded that the chief minister had himself announced that his government was prepared to get any allegation probed if it appeared credible, and thus there was no meaning of simply making wild allegations in this regard. In reply to another query, Karat made it clear that it is the state committees of the CPI(M) that decide candidates for polls in their respective states, and that the West Bengal and Kerala state committees were yet to meet in this connection. He expressed confidence that Buddhadeb Bhattacharya would credibly led the Left Front’s election campaign in West Bengal.
Karat also clarified the CPI(M)’s tactic for the assembly polls in three other states, particularly Tamilnadu. In the latter state, the DMK-Congress alliance was on the verge of a break-up at the time the said press conference was held. Replying to queries in this connection, the CPI(M) leader made it clear that in Tamilnadu both the communist parties are parts of the AIADMK led coalition which would strive to defeat the DMK-Congress coalition in the state. However, while talking of the tension in the latter coalition, Karat expressed his belief that both the parties would soon have a compromise.
Underlining the Supreme Court’s verdict indicting the UPA government in appointment of the central vigilance commissioner (CVC), the CPI(M) general secretary said the government’s expression of faith in the court’s decision was not enough. The real issue is: why was P J Thomas appointed as the CVC even after he had worked as the telecom secretary under the scam-tainted A Raja? Was it aimed at a cover-up of the mega scam that had taken place in the telecom ministry? Karat said this has cast doubt directly on the role of the prime minister in this matter. He emphasised that the Congress led regime has been a regime of mega scams and of the attempts at their cover-up. The CPI(M) leader also replied to queries regarding the appointment of P J Thomas as Kerala’s chief secretary while a chargesheet had been filed in the palmoline case. Referring to the chief minister’s statement in this regard, Karat said the state government had had to perforce appoint Thomas as the chief secretary after it was told that IAS officers had to be appointed to the state cadre positions on the basis of seniority. However, even if Thomas had to be appointed as Kerala’s chief secretary on the principle of seniority, that appointment could not be equated with his appointment as the chief of one of the premier investigating agencies in the country. Karat also made it clear that the UPA government’s responsibility did not end with the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee (JVC) to probe the 2G scam, and that the government needed to move in order to compensate for the loss of revenue through realisation of money from those who have made illicit gains from the scam.
Dubbing the Union Budget 2011-12 as one more evidence of the UPA government’s attacks on the common people’s life and livelihood, the CPI(M) general secretary drew attention in particular to the budget proposals for cuts in subsidies the people were so far getting. Expressing total opposition to the cash transfer proposal in regard to the kerosene and fertiliser subsidies, Karat said it is in reality a method to effect further cuts in the subsidies being given to the common people. He stressed that a cash transfer regime would only contribute to the demise of the public distribution system, thereby leading to all the sharper rises in the prices of essential commodities. On the other hand, such cash transfers would lose all meaning in the context of the fast rising prices. Criticising this model, Karat asked what would the cash transfer to the peasants below the officially defined line of poverty mean, while the peasants with small plots of land are deemed to be above this line and thus as non-poor.
In regard to the Srikrishna commission’s report on the Telangana issue, the CPI(M) leader underlined that the deadlock continues only because the UPA government is not willing to take a stand on the report. On the other hand, he welcomed the Assam government’s move to start an unconditional dialogue with the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and urged the government to initiate similar dialogue processes with other extremist groups in Assam and other north-eastern states.
While welcoming the popular upsurge in Egypt, Prakash Karat warned against the NATO or American intervention in Libya, saying that to decide their fate and a political system of their choice is the prerogative of the Libyan people themselves. He urged the government of India to do everything possible to evacuate all the Indians still present in Libya. As most of those coming back from Libya are ordinary workers who have lost their employments, the government must also take energetic measures for their rehabilitation.
Central Committee Communique
The text of the Central Committee’s statement issued on March 6, after its meeting on Marcgh 4 and 5, has been reproduced elsewhere in this issue.
THE Central Committee heard reports about the preparations being made for the elections in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Assam and Puducherry. The Central Committee called upon the people of West Bengal and Kerala to ensure the victory of the Left Front and the Left Democratic Front. The Congress and its TMC and UDF allies should be defeated as they are responsible for the acute price rise, massive corruption and attacks on the livelihood of the people. The Left Front of West Bengal and the LDF government of Kerala have stood out for the implementation of pro-people policies and safeguarding the interests of the working people.
The Central Committee approved the electoral tactics worked out for fighting the elections in Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Assam.
The union budget manifests all the negative features of the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the UPA government. It has totally failed to address the serious problems of high inflation and the relentless rise of food and fuel prices. The refusal to reduce excise and customs duties on petroleum products that were increased in the last budget signals the government’s intention to allow fuel prices to increase at a time when the international oil prices are going up. The budget has failed to come out with any measures to curb price rise at a time when the people are suffering from the relentless rise of food and fuel prices. The massive Rs 20,000 crore cut in subsidies of fuel, fertiliser and food will add to the burdens on the people.
The Direct Cash Transfer programme in lieu of subsidies will only lead to further price rise. It will lead to the exclusion of large sections of the country’s poor from subsidised food and fuel. It will open the way for dismantling the public distribution system and push the people to the market and the private sector where prices will increase and the cash subsidy will remain fixed. Further, cash transfer for fertilisers to the BPL category alone will mean excluding most farmers who are landholders and do not come under the BPL category.
The budget, while cutting subsidies, has given further concessions to the corporate sector with the cut in surcharge. The corporate tax exemption for 2010-11 totalled over Rs 88,000 crore. Rs 40,000 crores is targeted for realisation through disinvestment of PSU shares. The allocations for the welfare of women, minorities, dalits and tribals are thoroughly inadequate. The service tax of five percent on diagnostic tests and for hospitals will make access to health care more difficult for people.
The Central Committee opposes the retrograde provisions in the budget and calls upon the party to mobilise people against the new burdens imposed on them.
The food inflation rate stood at 15.67 per cent in January 2011. This shows that the food prices index has risen by a further 15 per cent from January 2010 to January 2011. The Congress-led government stands indicted for its failure to curb food inflation. The UPA government, pursuing the neo-liberal agenda, wants to allow FDI in retail trade and the replacement of the system of subsidised food through PDS with direct cash transfers. The CPI(M) opposes these steps. It demands enhancing the State support for agriculture and a universal PDS.
The Central Committee noted that the government was compelled to constitute the joint parliamentary committee to enquire into the 2G spectrum scam after a prolonged struggle by the opposition. It is also necessary that the investigative agencies take action against those companies which illegally got licences. The government should cancel these licences and auction the spectrum so that the lost revenue can be recovered.
The Central Committee wanted an independent enquiry into the Antrix-Devas contract (which has now been annulled), which involved the launching of two satellites and allocation of 70 MHz S band spectrum.
The Supreme Court has indicted the UPA government for appointing P J Thomas as the central vigilance commissioner and set aside the appointment. The prime minister was directly involved in the selection process. He has yet to explain how the former telecom secretary under A Raja and who had a case pending against him earlier was made the CVC.
The way the UPA government has handled the 2G spectrum affair and the manner in which the CVC was appointed, have all raised questions about the role of the prime minister in this affair and the cover-up that was attempted.
The confession by Aseemanand before a magistrate has confirmed the links of certain extremist Hindutva groups with the Malegaon, Ajmer Sharief, Mecca Masjid and Samjhautha Express blasts. The RSS cannot deny that some of its ranks have joined in these terrorist activities.
The investigative agencies should uncover the full network and bring all those guilty to book. At the same time, innocent Muslim youth who have been falsely implicated in such cases as in the Malegaon blast should be released forthwith and they should be compensated for their illegal detention.
The Central Committee welcomed the talks being held between the ULFA and the Assam state government. The central government should initiate talks with other extremist groups who are operating in Assam and Manipur.
The Central Committee expressed its concern at the increasing violence against women. It demanded that the long pending legislations on violence against women should be passed. It demanded that the women’s reservation bill be passed without further delay.
The Central Committee congratulated the central trade unions which had organised the massive Workers March to Parliament on February 23. The lakhs of men and women workers who participated in the march, were a manifestation of the anger and discontent among the working class against the anti-working class policies of the UPA government. The Central Committee fully supports the five-point charter of demands set out for the march.
The Central Committee greeted the people’s uprising in Egypt which has led to the ouster of the Mubarak regime. It extended its full support for the popular movement in Egypt for ushering in of a democratic set-up.
The Central Committee expressed its opposition to the moves of the United States and NATO to militarily intervene in Libya. The people of Libya should decide how to resolve their problems and the type of political system that they should have. The Central Committee wanted the speedy evacuation of all Indian nationals from Libya and steps taken to rehabilitate the large number of returning workers who have become jobless.
The Central Committee reviewed the work done on the rectification campaign conducted so far. The Central Committee also adopted a review of the work on the trade union front.
The Central Committee called upon all its party units to continue the agitation against price rise, mobilize the people against high level corruption and take up the issues of the peasantry and the rural poor. The party should step up the struggle for a universal public distribution system and food security; for proper implementation of the MNREGA and the Forest Rights Act; against disinvestment in public sector enterprises and opposition to FDI in retail. The state committees will take up demands related to these issues for launching movements in their respective states.