People's Democracy

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


No. 52

December 30, 2012




Left Parties Lay Siege at Its Chennai Office


S P Rajendran


MORE than 2,000 cadres and supporters of the Left parties, including the CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan, were arrested on December 26 for laying a siege on the Walmart’s proposed office at Chennai. These CPI(M) and CPI workers were taken into custody following an altercation between the cops and the agitators.


G Ramakrishnan pointed out that the Walmart was in the process of setting up a commercial complex on a one lakh square feet land at Pallikuppam in Thiruverkadu near Chennai, besides a marketing office at Anna Nagar in the city.


The district units of the CPI(M) and CPI staged the protest action as part of the Left parties' decision to oppose FDI in multi-brand retail, which was approved by the Manmohan Singh-led cabinet recently and ‘endorsed’ by the parliament.


Prior to the siege, the cadres organised a rally towards the office of Walmart.


CPI state secretary D.Pandian, CPI(M) MLAs A Soundararajan and K Balakrishnan and CPI(M) Central Committee members were among those leading the protest action in which farmers, labourers, students, youth, women and traders participated.


"The Tamilnadu government must take concrete measures so that Walmart does not set shop in any part of the state, close down its Anna Nagar office and stop the other processes it has initiated,” G Ramakrishnan demanded. He warned that Walmart had already approached suppliers for supply of goods and its entry would destroy retail trade in Tamilnadu.




Earlier, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) organised on the issue huge public conventions in various cities including Madurai, Thirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Chennai.


Addressing a public meeting against FDI in retail trade at Madurai on December 11, in which representatives of various traders’ associations also took part, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat flayed the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for its volte face in the issue of allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail trade during the debate in parliament.


She said that the ‘magic wand’ of the Congress, which led the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, had worked in making the political parties that opposed FDI in retail during the debate to vote in favour of the government. “Fourteen out of the 18 political parties, including the DMK, opposed FDI in retail, saying during the debate that it will be a disaster to the (domestic) retail traders. But, when it came to voting, they supported the government. We do not know what the magic wand is. Some say it is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and some say it is the Walmart,” she said.


She pointed out that the Walmart had announced that it had spent Rs 125 crore on “lobbying” for opening up of the Indian market to global giants. “The DMK has set a new record in taking dual stand in the issue. Its MP, T K S Elangovan, made point after point opposing the FDI in retail. But, at the end of his long speech, he said: We don’t like your policy, but you (the Congress) being our brother, we will support you (your wrong policy),” Brinda said.


Taking a dig at the infighting among the brothers M K Alagiri and M K Stalin in the party affairs, she said, “While the brothers were fighting for the chair, i.e. leadership in the party, in the state, the DMK fought to save the chair, that is, its ministerial berths in the centre),” she said.


The struggle against FDI in retail has not stopped with the voting in parliament but will continue in all the 53 cities across the country where the centre has allowed big global retailers to set up shop, she added.


The CPI(M) leader assured the trade representatives that the Left parties would not allow the UPA government to sell the interests of the people in the name of economic reforms. “We will not allow global giants to bulldoze the Indian retailers,” she categorically said.


The country has witnessed suicide by two lakh farmers because of the wrong economic policies of the centre. Those and similar families in destitution then turned to retail trading in order to survive after having realised that agriculture was no longer a profitable venture. “But the government is paving way for small traders also to commit suicide by allowing FDI in retail,” Brinda said.


The government that had failed to generate employment for the youth and to give farmers a commensurate price for their agricultural produce was claiming that the likes of Walmart would solve these grave issues. Brinda Karat refuted the claims of the government that four crore jobs would be created by the giants through FDI in retail. Instead, every job created by the big global retailers would snatch 17 existing jobs, and every shop set up by them would throw hundreds of retail shops out of business.


Even the European Union’s experience with big global retailers had been that the farmers were forced to sell their produce to them at the rock-bottom prices through unrealistic specifications. “While the sales at those giant retailers have come down in the last three years, their profits have grown,” she said.


“The centre that has failed to check the increasing price of essential commodities wants to hand the Indian market over to global retail players in the name of bringing the prices down,” she said.




On December 19, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said a powerful movement against FDI in multi-brand retail sector would be organised to ensure that the Walmart was not able to put up even a single shop in India.


Prakash Karat said so while addressing a massive public meeting after having inaugurated a signature movement at Chennai, in which various leaders of traders’ federations, CPI national secretary D Raja, MP, and state level leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI took part.


“Despite the vote in favour of FDI, there was widespread opposition to such a policy and our party is organising conventions to mobilise traders, students and all sections of society to build a powerful movement,” he said.


“By the time the government is able to bring in Walmart to put shops in India, we will have a powerful people’s movement and it may not be able to open a single shop,” he warned. Describing as “anti-national and anti-people” the decision to allow FDI in retail trade, he said the centre had to pay a heavy political price for trying to impose its policy on the people of the country.


The CPI(M) leader further said the UPA government was keen on serving the interests of the US and since the UPA-1 assumed office, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been trying to push through the proposal to allow FDI in retail sector. In its first term, if the UPA government could not push through the policy, it was because it was dependent on the Left for its survival. But the Congress-led government was under continuous pressure from the US.


At Sankarankovil in Thirunelveli district, CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan addressed a huge public meeting on the same issue. The party’s Central Committee members and state secretariat members participated in conventions at various places.




On December 23, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury urged upon the central government to initiate steps for creation of fast track courts (FTCs), at least at the rate of one in every state capital, within a year in order to try sexual crimes against women.


The recent incident of rape in Delhi was not an isolated one because such cases were getting reported every day from across the country. It was a matter of shame to hear that foreign agencies had rated India alongside countries like Afghanistan and Somalia on the issue of safety of women, he told reporters at Tiruppur, the garment city of Tamilnadu. Yechury was in the city to address a convention organised by the CPI(M) district committee on how to protect the livelihood of industrial workers in clusters like Tiruppur.


According to him, the system of delivery of justice in the country needed to be drastically improved as the conviction rate in rape cases at the moment stood at just 29 per cent. Laws had to be strengthened but, more importantly, deterrent punishment needs to be given to the accused.