People's Democracy

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


No. 51

December 18, 2011




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THOUGH the winter session of parliament began on November 22, it witnessed a long stalemate over the issues of FDI, price rise and corruption. There were adjournments in both the houses for nine consecutive days and they could get back to work only on December 7 after the government announced suspension of its decision to allow foreign direct investment in retail trade.




The session started with a short duration discussion on price rise. In Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury made a forceful intervention on the issue on behalf of the CPI(M). A slightly edited version of his speech is being reproduced elsewhere in this issue.


In the lower house, CPI(M) group leader Basudeb Acharia said the Left parties had been demanding a discussion on price rise under Adjournment Motion. He said the finance minister’s statement on the first day of the winter session on what steps the government had taken in this one year period to control the rising prices, was an exercise to conceal the utter failure of the government in the matter. The growth we have here in our country, has no relation with increased income of a section of the Indians. There is an increase in the income of 5 to 6 per cent of the people, but it is also a fact that 77 per cent of our population earns only Rs 20 a day. The prices of almost all essential commodities are increasing due to speculative trading but the government is not taking any concrete measures to ban speculation in commodity market. Within a year, this kind of trading has increased 53 per cent. Acharia demanded ban on future trading in all commodities. He also castigated the government’s propaganda that inflation is a global phenomenon, saying that India has the highest rate of inflation among the G-20 countries. He also dwelt on issues like the availability of foodgrains, shortage of purchasing power in the hands of the people, the large number of hungry people in India, starvation deaths, and the increasing burdens on people because of repeated hikes in the prices of petroleum products. He stressed the need of universalising the public distribution system, and of doing away with the APL-BPL distinction. Another problem is in relation to fertilisers. Their international prices have increased abnormally but the government refuses to increase the subsidy. As a result, the MRP of DAP, which was Rs 450 in January 2011, has increased to Rs 950. As for the minimum support prices (MSP) for peasantry, Dr Swaminathan commission recommended that it must be the cost of production plus 50 per cent profit. In case of paddy, it is Rs 1,050 per quintal this year, which is nowhere near the commission’s recommendations. Farmers are committing suicide because of the neo-liberal policies the government is pursuing, Acharia said.


In Lok Sabha, Bansa Gopal Chowdhury, CPI(M), spoke on the supplementary demands for grants (general), saying that inflation is still rampant in the country. When money is to be invested in some sectors and there is demand for it in a supplementary budget, concerns of the aam aadmi must be taken into consideration. He expressed concern over speculative trading and rising prices, fertiliser prices, rural debt situation, farmer suicides, repeated hikes in petrol and diesel prices, and the amount of taxes foregone in the latest budget, adding that the finance minister must answer why any such tax foregoing policy is at all needed. If only we stop giving such undue concessions to the rich, there would be no fiscal deficit, nor any type of resource crunch as we claim to be facing. Saying that the government is running after foreign direct investment, he warned that the types of activities envisaged are not in the interest of the common Indians. Expressing shock over the findings of the Human Development Report about our rural areas, Chowdhury said the faulty government policies are aggravating the dismal health scenario, malnutrition, the pitiable condition of child education and many such aspects. It was on these grounds that the member refused to lend support to the supplementary demands for grants.




Speaking on the New Delhi Municipal Council (Amendment) Bill, A Sampath, CPI(M), said the bill should have adhered more to democratic principles. In accordance with the constitution amendments for municipalities, corporations and panchayati raj institutions, it must give representation to the scheduled tribes and minority communities, more so because it is for the nation’s capital.


Opposing the Damodar Valley Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2011, Saidul Haque said that he was not against the restructuring or strengthening of DVC but against the way it was being done and against the motive behind it. If the central government’s control increases, a day may come when there will be disinvestment in the DVC as in other central public sector undertakings. That is not acceptable. When the DVC was established in 1948, it was decided to have seven reservoirs and one barrage. However, only four dams – Maithon, Panchet, Tilaiya and Konar – have so far been made. In the case of Belpahari, the Central Water Commission was entrusted to conduct a study in 2006, but it is yet to be done. Another important point is that with regard to irrigation, the DVC says it would supply water only for Aman paddy irrigation and not for Boro paddy irrigation, as it is not included in the DVC manual. So the member demanded the latter’s inclusion for the sake of cultivators. The Standing Committee has said that afforestation and control of soil erosion are not being done in the valley area in a planned manner. This must be looked into. As for drinking water supply, DVC supplies water to Durgapur township but is charging exorbitantly. The DVC must look into its social responsibility. The socio-economic development of the tribal people, which was a part of the DVC’s mission, and the welfare of DVC employees must be looked into. It must also fulfil the demand for power by coal and steel industries. The DVC has now started establishing three more thermal projects at Raghunathpur, Andal and Kodarma. The member welcomed it, but said the question is of rehabilitation and resettlement. Another important aspect is of flood control and irrigation schemes. In sum, that DVC must not be treated as just another CPSU as it has multi-dimensional roles.


Speaking on the Prasar Bharti (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill 2011, Prasanta Chatterjee said this bill sought to settle the long-pending issues facing the employees working in Prasar Bharati. But improving the management is very important in the implementation of its provisions. The concerned Standing Committee has already placed on record its unhappiness over the management’s inaction about implementing the Prasar Bharati Act, and recommended that through consultations the employees’ associations must be assured about promotion prospects, before the recruitment rules and service conditions are notified for Prasar Bharati and the amended provisions are put into operation. But the recognition of all the unions has been withdrawn arbitrarily. The member here asked the minister to take note of the management’s attitude towards unions whose recognition must restored. About the financial viability of the Prasar Bharati, the Standing Committee has categorically observed that the main reason for insecurity in the mind of officers and employees is that, by the government's own admission before the Supreme Court, Prasar Bharati is financially unviable. Hence the financial viability of the organisation must be improved by revamping the management and involving the unions in the task.




Speaking on the issues relating to Mullaperiyar dam, T N Seema expressed that this water dispute between the two states must be resolved at the earliest through an initiative by the centre. Huge protests are taking place in all the districts of Kerala, for which it is a question of life and death. There must be a proposal for disaster management. If something happens to the Mullaperiyar dam, water level in the Idukki dam must be reduced in order to contain the water-flow from the Mullaperiyar dam into the Idukki dam.


On the same issue, T K Rangarajan said farmers in Tamilnadu are not able to have two crops a year because the level of water in the dam has come down from 142 to 136 ft. The Supreme Court has taken up this issue but it must not be a law and order problem. He urged the prime minister that the centre must intervene. The interest of Tamilnadu must be protected. There is no question of constructing a new dam as long as this dam is all right. The government of India must settle the issue between the two states.