(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 10, 2011
Intense Struggle Launched in Tripura
HELD at Agartala Town Hall on April 4 at the call of the CPI(M)’s Tripura state committee, a state level mass convention has heralded an intensified struggle against the anti-people measures being undertaken by the UPA government at the centre one after another and against its discriminative and malicious approach towards Tripura from a narrow political point of view. The convention, which would be remembered for an overwhelming participation of people, adopted a 13-point charter of demands and decided to launch a wave of campaign movement in a phased manner in this month and the next.
The spirited convention was attended by the front ranking leaders of various mass organisations of workers, peasants, agricultural workers, students, youth and women from across the state. having failed to accommodate the participants inside the hall, the organisers had to make sitting arrangements in the lawn of the Town Hall and along the roads leading to it. The convention was presided over by a presidium comprising of CPI(M) Central Committee member Rama Das, state secretariat member Narayan Rupini, and state committee members Keshab Majumder, Matilal Sarkar and Jharna Das.
The convention resolutely voiced that howsoever tiny the state of Tripura might be, the people of the state are very much conscious about their self-esteem and have a tradition to protect it by means of powerful struggles and movements. They would now set another milestone through creating waves of struggle in order to realise their 13-point demands from the unwilling hands of the UPA government at the centre.
At the outset, CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar elaborated the UPA government’s anti-people measures that include the chilling price rises, limping PDS, rampant liberalisation, unabated inflow of FDI, ban on recruitment, and misappropriation of huge public fund through various scams of unprecedented nature. All these black measures, Bijan Dhar said, have crippled the life of all sections of people in the country. Tripura being a part of the country, its people cannot remain immune from the impact of these anti-people measures, he said.
In the perspective of the current national situation, Bijan Dhar added, the state has some problems of its own. Many schemes and projects in regard to the development of communication and infrastructure and for raising the living standard of the state’s people are waiting for approval of the central government. Without protest movements, these cannot be realised, Dhar asserted.
Central Committee member and the state’s finance minister Badal Chowdhury explained the gross deprivation meted to Tripura by the 13th Finance Commission award. He said Finance Commissions are generally constituted to assess the non-plan expenditure (salaries and pension of employees) of the states for the subsequent five years and make awards on the basis of its own resources. While the state’s demand under the above heads was of about Rs 28,000 crore, ironically the 13th Finance Commission awarded only 16,000 crore to the state. While making its award, the commission did not count the salaries of several thousand new recruits and 15-16 thousand employees who have been regularised in the interim period. Nor did the commission take the cases of 6-7 thousand pensioners who were superannuated in the same period.
The deprivation in respect of award in the share of central taxes to the state is most conspicuous. While the richly resourced advanced states have been given 250 per cent to 300 per cent more than what the last Finance Commission award had given, the increase in respect of Tripura was only 55 per cent. In respect of increase under this head, Tripura’s position is the last but one, just above Himachal Pradesh, which also happens to be an opposition ruled state. Chowdhury termed it as an economic blockade to make us bow down to the diktat of their liberalisation policies, while assuring the convention that, over time and with the help of the people, the Left Front government of the state would overcome the crisis imposed by the central government.
Niranjan Debbarma, general secretary of the Tripura Rajya Ganamukti Parishad (GMP), explained the achievements of the state in implementation of the Forest Rights Act and criticised the central government for its failure to adopt a national tribal policy till date. State CITU president Manik Dey explained the plight of the workers in the country which is evident in the fact that, of the total workforce of the country, 94 per cent are in the unorganised sector. It may go up to 97-98 per cent by the next one or two years, he said. State Kisan Sabha secretary Narayan Kar lashed out at the centre’s agriculture policy which is responsible for the suicide of lakhs of peasants., Agricultural Workers Union’s state president Bhanulal Saha, Krishna Rakshit (on behalf of women’s organisation), Sukumar Barman (secretary, Scheduled Caste Coordination Committee) and Amal Chakraborty on behalf of four organisations of students and youth also addressed the convention.
The 13 demands formulated by the Agartala convention are as below.
1) The central government must continue subsidies on food, fuel and fertilisers. Buffer stock of these items must be increased and state control must continue on these items.
2) Universalised ration system must be introduced. All the families irrespective of the BPL and APL categorisation must be provided with 35 kg of rice and/or wheat per month at Rs 2 per kilo and 14 essential goods must be added for distribution through the public distribution system.
3) At least 150 days work in a year must be ensured at the rate of Rs 200 per day per worker in the NREGA. The allowance of the workers engaged in various central schemes must be raised and they should be assured of job security.
4) An act must be enacted by the central government to provide social and job security to the unorganised sector workers.
5) The rail track up to Agartala must be converted to broad gauge immediately. The work of a new rail line up to Subroom must be completed expeditiously. The present mal-service for the rail passengers in Tripura must be ended as early as possible.
6) The work of widening of the Dharmanagar-Subroom road for upgrading it to 4-lane road must be initiated early.
7) The work of the alternative national highway from Subroom via Karbook, Amarpur, Teliamura , Khowai, Kamalpur, Kailashahar and Dharmanagar must be started soon.
8) Agartala airport must be upgraded to international standards in phased manner. Kailashahar and Kamalpur airports may be made operational again.
9) The central government must immediately accord a special grant to overcome the crisis due to deprivation caused to the state by the 13th Finance Commission. The centre must not put any condition on the state government about reducing the number of government employees and banning new recruitment.
10) The central government must prepare and implement a package plan for proper rehabilitation of the tribals who were allotted land under the FRA. An amendment may be made to the FRA for protection of the traditional non-tribal dwellers in the forest land.
11) An amendment to the constitution may be made for providing reservation for the OBCs in the Muslim community in education and service, by removing present ceiling on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court.
12) Nationalised banks must open their branches in rural Tripura. Self-employed groups must be provided loans in a simplified way and at minimum possible interest rates. Women’s self-help groups may be extended loans at 4 per cent interest. The interest in agricultural sector as well must be fixed at 4 per cent.
13) The telecommunication situation in the state must be improved with latest facilities.