People's Democracy

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


No. 13

March 25, 2012



UPA Govt Surviving

On a Day-To-Day Basis



IT is in the very logic of neo-liberalism and its economic reforms that the job security of the workers is constantly eroded by replacing permanent employment with contractual, casual or temporary employment. This change in the nature of employment exponentially increases the insecurity of the working people.


A reflection of this logic seems to have afflicted, of course, in a vastly different manner, this Manmohan Singh-led UPA-2 government which is wedded to neo-liberalism. The government has been virtually reduced to continuously seek to continue its tenure (like a `daily wage labourer’) by making all sorts of compromises with its allies. The latest instance of this has been the manner in which the traditional motion of thanks to the president on her address to the joint session was passed in both the houses. The government had to give an assurance that India would vote on a UN resolution censuring Sri Lanka for the crimes against its Tamilian population in order to appease the DMK. It had to make a deal with the Trinamul Congress by acceding to the most uncharacteristic demand of replacing the railway minister soon after he presented the railway budget. This is probably for the first time in the history of Indian parliamentary democracy that a minister who presented the budget to the parliament does not now monitor the discussion in order to reply and move the budget proposals for adoption.


Such a deal with the Trinamul Congress was necessary to ensure that they absent themselves from voting in both the houses on the motion of thanks resolution. Even after all this, it became clear that fresh deals would have to be struck with the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party if the motion had to be passed in the Rajya Sabha where the UPA does not have a majority. What these deals are, is not in public knowledge, as of now. However, in the event, both these parties voted with the UPA in the Rajya Sabha which alone permitted the passage of this motion. Earlier, the government had to hastily roll back the ban on cotton exports, which was a big issue in Maharashtra, after the Nationalist Congress Party raised strong objections.


Incidentally, through this entire process, the doublespeak of the Trinamul Congress became all the more evident. It thundered against the reference to the creation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre as it violated the centre-state relations and India’s federal structure enshrined in the constitution. When this matter came up for voting, the Trinamul meekly turned its tail, having made its deals with the Congress. Similar was its behaviour on the issue of Lokayuktas in the Lokpal Bill. These objections were never raised by the Trinamul when the president’s address was cleared by the union cabinet or when the Lokpal Bill was cleared by the cabinet to be tabled in the Lok Sabha. It is only subsequently that such wisdom dawns on the Trinamul Congress which is but a flimsy screen to hide its deal-makings.


All these developments led the prime minister to make a remark that difficult decisions were becoming even more difficult because of coalition compulsions. This drew a sharp rebuff from the NCP chief, Sharad Pawar, who reacted to the PM by saying “making such a sweeping statement has caused anguish and unease for us.” This further reconfirms the fact that this UPA-2 government continues to remain on the edge given such brinkmanship by its allies.


This UPA government is thus surviving by making deals and compromises on a step by step and a brick by brick basis. This is bound to lead to further conflicts with the prime minister being determined to push ahead with his agenda of further neo-liberal economic reform. He is by force continuing to hold back his decision to allow FDI in retail trade, a decision that he took despite Left parties’ strong protests and opposition. Further reforms in the financial sector have been promised in the budget. A frightening situation of a burgeoning fiscal deficit that will consume our economy is being painted. The fact, however, remains that the tax concessions doled out by his government to the corporates and the rich during the last fiscal year were to the tune of nearly 5.28 lakh crores while the fiscal deficit standing at 5.9 per cent of our GDP was nearly 5.22 lakh crores. In other words, if these concessions were not given to the rich then there simply is no fiscal deficit!


However, using the scare of controlling the fiscal deficit the Budget has proposed huge cuts in subsidies (Rs 25,000 crores on fuel, Rs 6000 crores on fertilisers etc). Apart from causing greater hardships to the people directly, this is bound to lead to further hikes in the prices of petroleum products which will both, heap further burdens on the people directly and exacerbate them with the cascading affect this will have on the overall inflationary spiral.


In order to ensure that such cuts in subsidies can be implemented, the government through the Planning Commission has committed a gigantic fraud on the people by changing the definition of poverty and showed a marked decline of people living below the poverty line (BPL). Such a reduction of the BPL population is necessary to drastically reduce the subsidy bill which is virtually being limited to BPL sections alone. Elsewhere in this issue the CPI(M) Polit Bureau’s statement explaining the implications of such a fraud is carried.


This only proves the point that while neo-liberal economic reforms generate a greater sense of economic insecurity amongst the people and make their livelihood vulnerable at every step, it nevertheless continues to bolster super profits from such a process. This insecurity of the UPA-2 government likewise is leading to the implementation of further reforms which while heaping economic burdens on the people will generate greater super profits for international and domestic capital. Thus this UPA-2 government appears to continue on this path of making dubious deals and compromises to continue its existence and thereby ensure that the neo-liberal agenda of economic reforms unfolds further.


This is bound to make the livelihood conditions of the vast majority of our working people more miserable. It is becoming clearer by the day that only the strength of popular people’s mobilisation can force this government to change this policy direction, which alone can provide some relief to the people.

(March 21, 2012)