People's Democracy

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


No. 23

June 10, 2012

Popular Protests Decry Petrol Price Hike,

Demand Total Rollback



ON May 13, the 12 hour general strike, called for by the Tripura Left Front Committee in protest against the unprecedented hike in petrol prices, scored a huge success in the state, with people supporting the protest action throughout the state. From north to south and from west to east, public life came to a standstill in the whole of the state. The observance of the strike was completely peaceful.


Since the very morning on the day, streets wore a deserted look all over the state. The otherwise busy motor stands of capital Agartala and the inter-state bus terminus at Chandrapur were virtually soulless on the day. Shops, markets, business establishments were closed. Schools, colleges, banks and state as well as central government offices remained non-functional because of the complete absence of employees. There was total shutdown in the Bodhjungnagar industrial complex and other industrial estates. Tea gardens in the North, Dhalai, Unakoti and South districts too were closed. Rails did not ply from Agartala and Dharmanagar stations to or out of Tripura. The morning flight of Air India from Agartala was cancelled.


The Tripura Left Front Committee, in a statement later on the day, congratulated the people of the state for this complete and peaceful strike. The action ventilated the genuine anger of the people against the anti-people decision of the central government, it said. The Left Front committee said it is because of the neo-liberal policies prescribed by the IMF, WTO and World bank, and being pursued by the centre, that the prices of essential commodities including fuel were on the rise, subsidies are being curtailed and rampant corruption is taking place. The Left Front Committee called for further strengthening the unity of the working people, who have made this strike a success, in order to wage a continuous struggle against the anti-people policies of the Congress led UPA government. It demanded that the increased price of petrol be immediately withdrawn.


Streets across Tripura came to a complete standstill when all vehicles stopped for 15 minutes as the five Left oriented youth organisations organised a Chakka Jam to protest the unprecedented hike in the price of petrol. The state units of DYFI, AIYF, AIYL, RYF and the Central Committee of TYF organised the protest action a day prior to the nationwide Chakka Jam programme called for by DYFI CEC. On the same day, women of the state gave vent to their anger against the cruel decision of the central government by holding protest rallies at all the subdivision headquarters, at the call of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).


The Chakka Jam programme of the said youth organisations started at 11 a m and lasted till 11.15 a m. The action took place successfully at more than 100 spots all over the state. DYFI state president Tapas Dutta led the Chakka Jam at Panisagar in North Tripura while DYFI state secretary Amal Chakraborty and TYF general secretary Pranab Debbarma were present in the programmes held in Agartala. Tens of thousands of youth participated in the programme.


AIDWA members also hit the streets decrying the unprecedented and criminal increase in the price of petrol. The organisation organised protest meetings in the afternoon in all the subdivisions of the state. At Agartala, a protest rally was organised, addressed among others by AIDWA state president Rama Das. (Rahul Sinha)



IN response of the call of the Left parties and other opposition parties, it was a total shutdown in Coimbatore, Tiruppur and Kanniyakumari in the state on May 31. More than five lakh industrial workers struck down their work. Small unit owners and producers also took part in the hartal that was total.


In other parts of the state, cadres of the CPI(M), CITU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI held road rook and rail rook actions. Nearly 20,000 of them were arrested.


In Virudhunagar, a southern district, the police brutally attacked the protesters who had gathered for picketing in front of an express rail at the railway junction. Six youth and students were injured in the attack.


CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan condemned the police attack.


Earlier, Left parties staged protest actions in Tamilnadu against the petrol price hike immediately after the announcement, on May 23.


CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat participated in and addressed a big demonstration held at the city of Coimbatore. Bajuban Riyan, CPI(M) MP from Tripura, also joined. Both the leaders had come to Coimbatore to attend a national level meeting of the tribal organisation which was held at Coonnore in Nilgris district. P R Natarajan, CPI(M) MP, also addressed the demonstrators.


More than 100 youth, belonging to the DYFI, gheraoed the Indian Oil Bhavan at Chennai. Around 40 DYFI activists were detained on the spurious ground that they did not have the permission to stage protest. During this protest action, the police manhandled the cadres and some were injured.


Across the state, tens of thousands of CPI(M) cadres protested the price hike and held demonstrations in hundreds of centres.


Later, while talking to reporters on June 1 in connection with the National Council meeting of the CITU, held from June 2 to 5 at Coimbatore, CITU general secretary Tapan Sen asserted that going by the international crude prices, we should be getting petrol at Rs 38 to 40 per litre. He accused the central government of misleading the people with false information.


Flaying the centre for the steep hike in petrol prices and pointing out the lack of transparency in pricing mechanism, Sen said that price of crude oil in the international market could never be a reason for the price hike. But even if one were to go by the international crude prices, India should be selling petrol only at Rs 38 to 40 per litre and not at Rs 76, he added. If the prices of petroleum products were very high in India, it was because about 45 per cent of the revenue earned by the oil corporations, which stood at Rs 2.25 lakh crore, went to the government by way of taxes.


On this occasion, Sen also flayed as flawed the economic policies of the UPA government and the earlier bombastic claims of the prime minister about GDP growth rate followed by its dismal fall to a new low of 5.3 per cent in the last quarter of the current fiscal. He also talked of hullabaloo about the existence of a handful of billionaires in the country while 78 per cent of the population was still living at only Rs 20 a day. He warned that an enhancement of foreign direct investment in coal and mining industry would result in coal becoming increasingly unavailable for power generation needs in the country. He demanded stop to disinvestment and privatisation of public sector undertakings.


Sen pointed out that the centre’s insensitivity to resolving the 42-day old strike of contract labourers who are seeking equal pay for equal work, was only a testimony of its loathsome attitude towards the working class.  (S P Rajendran)



IN response to the nationwide call of the Left parties, the Assam units of the CPI(M), CPI and CPI(ML)-Liberation jointly observed a hartal and general strike on May 31, in protest against the steep hike in petrol price. While extending their full support to the Left sponsored protest actions, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) maintained a distance from the NDA and gave a separate call for Assam Bandh on the same day. The NDA’s Bharat Bandh too had its impact to an extent.


In fact, immediately after the hike in petrol price, the Left parties in Assam took to the streets and organised joint actions throughout the state and registered protest. On May 24, the CPI(M) organised militant protest actions across the state. Later in the evening, the state leaders of the CPI(M), CPI and the CPI(ML)-Liberation met at the CPI(M) state headquarters in Guwahati and decided to hold joint actions and take forward the campaign against the anti-people policies of the Congress-led UPA-2 government at the centre. In a joint statement, the parties strongly condemned the whopping hike in petrol price and said, “this is a savage attack on the people who are already suffering from the ill effects of continuing and galloping rise in prices of all essential commodities.” In order to build up a sustained and united movement for demanding a halt to price rises in case of essential commodities and complete rollback of the hike in petrol price, the Left parties decided to intensify agitation programmes and organise joint actions throughout the state on May 30. It was also decided to observe a hartal and general strike on May 31 as part of the nationwide protest call.


The AGP too convened a meeting of the Left and secular opposition parties on the eve of the National Protest Day. The meeting called upon the people to unitedly resist the anti-people policies of the UPA-2 government. It also urged upon all sections of the people to make the Left-sponsored strike and AGP-sponsored bandh a total success.


In response to the call of the Left parties, demonstrations, processions and meetings were organised throughout the state on May 30. The call for a hartal and general strike evoked massive response in Assam. The entire state came to a standstill, displaying people’s anger against the disastrous policies of the Congress-led dispensation. Business establishments and educational institutions remained closed and industrial activities came to a halt. The transport system was not functional either and very low attendance was recorded in all the government offices. Except a very few ASTC buses, private buses and other vehicles were off the roads. Train services were also effected to some extent.


Activists and supporters of the Left parties and especially of the CPI(M) took to the streets, organised road blockades, picketings, demonstrations and processions etc in many places across the state on the day of the hartal and strike. The police arrested more than 500 CPI(M) volunteers from various parts of the state. The state secretaries of the three Left parties --- Uddhab Barman (CPI-M), Bhugeswar Dutta (CPI) and Rubul Sarma (CPI-ML) --- and a large number of Left activists were arrested in Guwahati while blocking the roads in front of the District Collector’s office. The arrested leaders and volunteers were detained in various police stations like Panbazar, Dispur, Fatasil-Ambari and Basistha. CPI(M) state secretariat members Suprakash Talukdar, Ajit Das and Isfaqur Rahman were also arrested in Guwahati. CPI(M) Kamrup (Metro) district secretary Tiken Das and CPI district secretary Chakreswar Kalita were arrested and detained at Panbazar police station. In Rangia town, more than 150 CPI(M) volunteers were arrested while picketing on rail tracks and blocking roads. Similarly, 128 volunteers were arrested while staging protest in Karimganh town in Barak Valley. Arrests were also made at Badarpur, Patharkandi, Nagaon etc.


In spite of the attempts made by the state administration to foil the protest actions, the 12 hour hartal and strike did paralyse life in the state. The Left parties congratulated the people for their massive response to the protest actions. The organising parties have now decided to continue the protest and to build up sustained agitation against the neo-liberal economic policies. (Isfaqur Rahman) 



AT the call of the four Left parties, viz the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and AIFB, units of the CPI(M) and CPI throughout Punjab (including Chandigarh) jointly organised protest actions on May 31, against the hike in petrol prices. At many places, the People’s Party of Punjab and at some places the Pasla group also participated in the actions. Coming as it did after the widespread protest organized throughout the state by the CPI(M) on May 28 against 63 per cent cut in kerosene oil quota and despite the reigning heat wave, the popular response to the Left parties’ protest call was massive. Also noteworthy was the middle class support as well as women’s participation in rallies, dharnas, traffic jam and demonstrations held on May 31. The rank and file of the CPI(M) and CPI became active organisers throughout the state and felt enthused by the all-India call of the Left parties.


As per the reports received at the state headquarters of the CPI(M), bazaars remain closed, while transport trucks and passenger buses did not ply. Some banks closed their operations for the day; even the ATMs of the some other banks remained closed. The CPI(M) organised impressive rallies and demonstrations at Pathankot and Batala, led by leaders of both the parties. In Amritsar the demonstration organised by the CPI(M) was led by Vijay Misra. Demonstrations were also held at Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Patiala, Sangrur  and Chandigarh.