(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 03, 2012
PETROL PRICE HIKE
Country Witnesses Protest Actions All over, More to Come
Meanwhile, a two-day taxi strike has also been called for June 6 and 7 in the state. The CITU has already started a campaign for the strike. A state level convention was also held.
The Left Front was critical of the theatrical posture taken by the Trinamul Congress (TMC) and its chief minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, regarding the price hike. To dodge the wrath of the people, she took refuge in her usual refrain that “we were not consulted.” The TMC organised a march in Kolkata with the chief minister herself and her cabinet colleagues. But the march was conspicuously silent about the demand of rollback of prices. Left Front leaders like Biman Basu and Suryakanta Misra termed it as “hypocritical” as the TMC representative was silent in the central cabinet meeting when the decision about decontrol of petrol prices was taken.
Issuing a stern warning to the central government following its decision to increase the petrol prices, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) observed a dawn to dusk hartal on May 24. People who have been facing hardships due to incessant price rises, wholeheartedly joined the protest. The BJP also issued a separate call for hartal on the day.
On the day, in response to the LDF call, factories, government and private hospitals, shops and all other establishments remained closed while vehicles were off the roads. LDF workers organised huge protest marches at every district headquarters. In Thiruvananthapuram, a huge protest march to the State Secretariat was led by LDF convenor Vaikom Vishwan.
STIR ALL OVER
25, in protest against
the unprecedented petrol price hike declared by the UPA-2
regime, the CPI(M)’s
In Mumbai, protest actions were held by the CPI(M) at three places on --- at Bhandup railway station, Andheri railway station and Jijamata Nagar Chowk in Worli. At Marol, there was a protest procession and some street corner meetings. The response of the people to all the four programmes was spontaneous. Party leaders denounced the UPA regime for effecting a back-breaking petrol price hike, its anti-people policies and its massive corruption scandals. In Andheri, an effigy of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was burnt, much to the chagrin of the police. Thousands of leaflets were distributed. Attractive banners condemning the petrol price hike were displayed.
In Aurangabad, there was a joint protest demonstration by the CPI(M), CPI, Lal Nishan Paty (Leninist), Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (Secular) and the Samajwadi Jan Parishad. Next day, there was another large independent demonstration by the CPI(M).
In Pune, a joint protest action was held by the CPI(M), JD(S), Socialist Party and the Bharatiya Republican Party. At Nashik and Ichalkaranji, in district Kolhapur and at other places, CPI(M) organised independent protest demonstrations. Reports from other centres have yet to come in while filing this report. All the above actions were well covered by the print and electronic media.
On May 24, Delhi state committee of the CPI(M) held a militant protest demonstration near the Parliament House in New Delhi, against the savage hike in the prices of petrol. Hundreds of protestors assembled a Vithalbhai Patel House and then marched up to the Parliament House where all the demonstrators were arrested.
The demonstration was addressed by CPI(M) Central Committee member Nilotpal Basu and state secretariat member Vijender Sharma.
Nilotpal Basu criticised the anti-people policies of the UPA government and demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike in petrol prices. He said the timing of the hike immediately after conclusion of the parliament session was all the more shameful when the actual price of crude oil has fallen at the international level. While the aam admi would badly suffer, the government has again chosen not to reduce the ad valorem tax on petrol. It is in fact out to make more money from taxes on petro products, and oil companies will stand to gain from the price hike.
The protestors expressed their anger against this anti-people move and vowed to intensify the agitation against the UPA government.
Reports from other states are awaited.
From New Delhi, central trade unions, viz the BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, AICCTU, UTUC, TUCC, LPF and SEWA jointly issued a statement on May 26, 2012, opposing the petrol price hike. They expressed deepest concern over the reckless decision of the government to increase the price of petrol by more than Rs 7 per litre, an unprecedented dose of increase so far. They said this came at a time when the economy was in a deep crisis. Food inflation has again crossed the double digit mark while the slowdown of the economy continues unabated and an all round economic crisis has overtaken the country.
The trade unions said when it was urgently necessary to take effective steps to curb the criticality of the economic crisis, the government has been moving in the reverse direction, perpetuating the crisis and pushing the people, particularly the working masses, to intolerable hardships.
The trade unions asked the government to rollback the increase in petrol prices and desist from increasing the prices of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene. They pointed out that it is the economic policy of the government itself that has put the country into peril, jeopardising the livelihood of the common masses.
The central trade unions called upon the working masses to register their angry protest on May 30 and 31, 2012, through effective forms of agitation.
They also decided to hold the next meeting on July 10-11, 2012 in order to finalise their future programmes of action.
CITU FOR UNITED
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) denounced the hefty hike in petrol price by Rs 7.58 per litre by the government of India, saying this came as the most cruel and atrocious onslaught on the mass of the people who are already reeling under the continuing rises in the prices of all essential commodities. The CITU also pointed out that this was the 18th hike in the prices of petro products under the UPA-2 regime since 2009.
What is all the more shocking is that the country witnessed this steepest hike of petrol price at a time when the price of crude oil is falling in the international market. The sharp decline in the value of rupee, making the crude import costlier, is being projected as the reason for price hike as it necessitated steps to offset the alleged losses of the oil sector companies. The sharp depreciation of rupee is, however, due to faulty policies of the managers of our economy and governance who are out to make mass of the people bear the entire burden. Secondly, the impact of decline in the value of rupee on oil sector companies is not a story of unmixed losses. Riding on the wave of rising dollar vis-à-vis rupee, exports from the same oil sector are making hefty, windfall gains on every litre of export. Moreover, simultaneously, the government too is earning extra revenue in the ad valorem import duties account owing to the falling value of rupee. Similarly, the domestic crude oil and gas producers too, both in private and public sectors, are making extra gains as they receive payments for the crude and gas produced on the Indian soil in dollars.
The CITU also pointed out that volatility in the price and production of fuel as well as in the value of rupee vis-à-vis dollar is a reflection of the present unstable geo-political world situation in the midst of a deepening economic crisis. In such a situation, it is the political responsibility of the government to ensure that nobody makes undue gains from either a falling rupee or rising global oil price when the entire economy and the mass of the people are bleeding in distress owing to such negative developments. It asked the government, which has so frequently been swearing in the name of aam aadmi, to pool a sizeable part of such windfall profits and also unbudgeted gains in revenue on import duty account, through appropriate taxation and other fiscal measures, to provide relief to the oil marketing companies catering to the domestic market to neutralise the pressure of rising import bill and also relieve the people from the scourge of such frequent petro price hikes.
The CITU further asserted that much of the burden on the people owing to petro prices is due to a most irrational tax structure, with the tax component being around 48 per cent. It said essential items like petroleum products cannot be made a milking cow by the government for revenue generation while allowing a free run to the private giants, both domestic and foreign, to make huge money from the same national assets. The entire taxation pattern on petroleum products needs to be totally restructured in the interests of the common people at large.
The CITU has demanded total rollback of the hefty hike in petrol price and refraining from any hike in the diesel, kerosene and LPG prices. It asked the government to review and restructure its taxation, fiscal and pricing policy regarding petroleum products. The CITU asked the working class movement in general and its affiliated units in particular to immediately organise countrywide united protest against the anti-people price hike and prepare for united actions in the days to come.
The All India Kisan Sabha, All India Agricultural Workers Union and several other class and mass organisations also condemned the petrol price hike and urged upon the people to resist such policies and reverse them. They have asked the mass of the Indian citizens to mobilise in the maximum number for the All India Protest Day on May 31, for called by the Left and some other political parties. They said this action must be made an unqualified example for future struggles to overthrow the system that loots and dispossesses the majority of our people, presided over by a greedy and criminal government that is least concerned with the common man’s life and livelihood.