(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 05, 2012
Massive Response to Left Parties
Dharna for Food Security
THE five day sit-in
organised by the four Left parties – Communist Party of India
(Marxist), Communist Party of India, All India Forward Bloc
and Revolutionary Socialist
Party began in New Delhi on July 30 against price
rise and to demand the right to food through a universal
public distribution system. As we go to press, the third day
of the sit-in saw the participation of thousands
of people from
On the first day of
the sit-in on July 30, large number of people from Haryana and
The leaders said the government should give people access to cheap foodgrain. At a time when 8.2 crore tonnes of foodgrain is stored, it is grave injustice to deny people access to food, they said and added that the food security system should be based on universal public distribution system, instead of targeted population. The entire concept of above and below poverty line population needs to be scrapped, they demanded.
The Left parties’ leaders also demanded a proper food security system keeping in mind the high levels of malnutrition in the country. They also demanded a halt to export of foodgrain at subsidised rates.
They said the government should supply 35 kg of foodgrain at a maximum rate of Rs 2 a kg per family each month, distribute over 8 crore foodgrain stocks by increasing allocations immediately and scrap the Planning Commission’s “highly dubious” poverty estimates and ensure that these are not used as basis for welfare allocations.
Among others present at the dharna were Communist Party of India leader A B Bardhan and eminent economist and food expert Utsa Patnaik. Utsa Patnaik addressed the gathering, detailing how the policies of the government are affecting agriculture and creating food insecurity in our country.
The second day of the dharna on July 31 demanding immediate legislation on food security again witnessed the participation of thousands of people from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana. The people expressed their anger against the government and their strong resolve and determination by sitting in dharna, braving the incessant rain throughout the day.
The central leaders of the Left parties who spoke in the dharna highlighted the apathy of the government towards the poor. They criticised the UPA government that was unwilling to spend even a meagre One per cent of the GDP for ensuring food security to the people and stated that this shows its real concern for aam aadmi. The government, instead of supplying foodgrains to the hungry and malnourished people of our country, is keen on exporting foodgrains where it is used to feed cattle.
They also criticised the government for its failure to provide ration cards to all the needy and its intent on dismantling the entire public distribution system (PDS). More than 50 per cent of our agricultural labourers, 61 per cent of the dalits and 55 per cent of the adivasis do not have either the BPL or the Antyodaya cards. This in itself means that the majority of the poor in our society are denied access even to that nominal PDS that exists in our country. Instead of strengthening the PDS, the government is bent upon wiping out even the existing structure. This exposes the true character of the Congress party and the UPA government. They called upon the people to join hands and further intensify the struggle for 35 kgs of foodgrains at not more than Rs 2 per family.
Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M), Amarjeet Kaur, national secretary of the CPI, Premachandran, former minister of Kerala and leader of the RSP, Narahari Mahato, member of parliament, AIFB addressed the protesters along with the state leaders of the four Left parties. The central leadership of the four Left parties – CPI(M), CPI, AIFB and RSP – were joined by many prominent personalities working in the field of food security. Eminent economist Jean Dreeze, Civil rights activist Binayak Sen and other Right to Food activists extended their support to the protest and addressed the people.
Thousands of people from
Addressing the gathering the leaders said, the government, instead of supporting the peasants by announcing remunerative support prices, is leaving them to the vagaries of market. Moreover, it is encouraging the cultivation of commercial crops for export, rather than cultivation of food grains. As a result, the production of food grains in the country has declined and this together with the speculative activities like forward trading is contributing to the rise in the prices of food grains and other essential commodities. This is leading to a situation where even the producers of food grains too are unable to buy them from the market. They demanded the government to immediately address the concerns for storage of food grains. Instead of letting the food grains to rot, the government should take steps to distribute them through the PDS by strengthening it.
S Ramachandran Pillai, Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M), D Raja, national secretary of CPI and member of parliament, Basudeb Acharia, member of parliament and leader of the CPI(M) in Lok Sabha, Subhashini Ali, Central Committee member, CPI(M), Ashok Ghosh of RSP, Charanjeet Singh of AIFB addressed the protesters along with the state leaders of the four Left parties. Leaders of various mass organisations – AIDWA, AISF, DYFI and SFI too addressed the dharna. Jan Natya Manch performed a play highlighting the impact of price rise on the common people.