People's Democracy

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


No. 13

March 25, 2012




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THE first day of the budget session 2012 began, as usual, with the president’s address to the joint session of parliament on March 12. The president’s long speech, however, lacked vision and betrayed the government’s lackadaisical approach about how to achieve the lofty objectives that it preached. Subsequently, in both houses, hundreds of amendments were moved to the motion of thanks on the president’s address.


On March 14, Dinesh Trivedi, as the railway minister, presented the rail budget 2012-13 in Lok Sabha, imposing new burdens in form of fare and freight hikes. The rise in fares of second class and sleeper class was particularly onerous.


On March 15, the government presented in parliament the Economic Survey 2012-13 which indicated that steep rises in prices could take place in future. 


On March 16, the finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, placed in Lok Sabha a pro-rich and anti-people budget for 2012-13, which would lead to still sharper price rises and impose greater burdens on the working people. The increase in excise duties and service taxes across the board will impose an additional burden of Rs 45,940 crore. The cut in fuel subsidy by Rs 25,000 crore will lead to further hikes in fuel prices. Similarly, the cut in fertiliser subsidies by Rs 6,000 crore will add to the already high prices of fertilisers, affecting the livelihood of millions of farmers.




In Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury, leader of the CPI(M) group, spoke on behalf of the party during the discussion on the motion of thanks on the president’s address. Excerpts from his speech are being printed elsewhere in this issue.


Speaking on the president’s speech in Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia, CPI(M), said the objective of the eleventh five year plan was inclusive growth, but the question is whether we have actually achieved it. Disparity between the poor and the rich has increased as a fallout of the neo-liberal economic policy being pursued. During his intervention, Acharia raised several issues including farmers’ suicides, workers’ grievances, growth in unemployment, increase in poverty, starvation death, corruption and proliferation of black money. He also said the Payment of Wages Act is being violated in West Bengal in case of state transport employees. From the government he wanted to know the state of progress in implementation of the recommendations made by the Justice Sachar committee and Justice Ranganath Mishra commission. While the erstwhile Left Front government of West Bengal implemented the recommendations of Justice Ranganath Mishra commission, Acharia said the central government has not done much about it.


Speaking on the same subject in Lok Sabha, Khagen Das, CPI(M), referred to widespread hunger and malnutrition in the country after 64 years of independence. India continues to be home to around 25 per cent of the world’s hungry population and around one-third of the world’s malnourished children. The prime minister recently lamented the high levels of malnutrition among children in the country and called it a ‘national shame,’ but the question is what he did about it all these years. Das strongly demanded that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) must be extended to the urban poor as Tripura under a Left Front government has done, that workdays under the MGNREGA must be increased from 100 to 200 days and the wages under it increased. He also drew attention to how Tripura is facing serious financial difficulties due to the award of the 13th Finance Commission, and strongly demanded that the government of India devise a special economic package for the state, as demanded by the state government to meet the difficult situation. Also, the government of Tripura has submitted a proposal to the Planning Commission, amounting to Rs 440.16 crore, to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the forest dwellers, and Das urged the government to sanction the amount at the earliest. The centre must also take appropriate steps to start work on the National Highway 44, and send back the more than 35,000 Reang refugees from Mizoram who have been staying in refugee camps in Tripura for more than 12 years. Rising atrocities against women and the rampant human rights violations in the country, particularly in West Bengal, were among the other issues Das highlighted.




Highlighting the plight of nurses during a short duration discussion in Lok Sabha, A Sampath spoke on the widespread discontent in the working class due to faulty government policies. In case of nurses in the country, he said thousands and thousands of them are not even getting the minimum wage, their work time is not at all fixed, and all labour laws are being flouted in their case.


Referring to how the august house, cutting across party lines, expressed solidarity to the working class of this nation, the member said the single largest violator of labour laws is the government of India. For years together, thousands of people are working as casual and contract labourers in the Food Corporation of India, in Air India, in many other organisations, but no disciplinary action is taken against any one for allowing this state of affairs. We are still employing child labour. The fundamental rights, enshrined in the constitution, are thus being denied. This requires of the government to ensure that labour laws are implemented. But the government of India must itself first become a model employer, the member said.


Speaking on the issue raised in Rajya Sabha in connection with the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2011, Prasanta Chatterjee said every political party must give its opinion on this particular issue. He demanded a discussion again on this matter as the house was adjourned sine die when a debate on it was going on earlier.


In the same house, Tapan Sen of the CPI(M) raised the matter of Employees Provident Fund, saying the government sharply reduced the rate of interest on it at a time when the rate of interest outside is increasing. He described this unilateral decision to cut the rate of interest on EPF as disrespect to the basic democratic principle. Denouncing this decision, Sen demanded that the government to immediately revoke the notification regarding it.


The next week would be devoted to discussions on the rail budget and general budget.