People's Democracy

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


No. 14

April 07, 2013











Left Parties Struggle Brings

Power Issue to Centre Stage


THE second phase of struggle launched by ten Left parties against power tariff hike, power cuts and levying of Fuel Surcharge Adjustment, has brought this issue to the centrestage of Andhra Pradesh politics. Cutting across political divide, opposition parties Telugu Desam, YSR Congress Party, BJP have also launched indefinite hunger strikes.


Heeding to the call given by the Left parties to 'walk independently but strike collectively', these parties, Telugu Desam, YSRCP and BJP have also announced state bandh on April 9, synchronising with the ten Left parties call for state bandh on that day. All this activity in the opposition camp has exacerbated the internal struggle within ruling Congress party with union minister Chiranjeevi and known CM-baiters openly criticising the state government on this issue and calling for rollback of tariff hike.


The AP Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) has given its go-ahead to increase power tariff by a steep 27 per cent on average for domestic consumers. While the Discoms asked for Rs 12,723 crore additional revenue through the tariff hike, the APERC in its order on March 31 has allowed them to raise Rs 6,500 crore. Although the distribution companies sought introduction of non-telescoping billing, the APERC rejected it. But in a sleight of hand, it has allowed for more slabs in the existing telescoping bill system. Instead of earlier slabs of 100 units each, now it is for every 50 units.


The Left parties and entire opposition slammed the government for resorting to this hike in power tariff. The dire situation of power cuts, erratic supply to agriculture have been compounded with this steep hike in tariff, they felt. The government is under pressure to at least partially roll back the tariff hike and it may take a decision shortly.




Earlier, ten Left parties in Andhra Pradesh have called for a statewide bandh on April 9 on power issue as part of the second phase of its ongoing movement. Prior to the bandh, on April 1, mass relay hunger strikes at all mandal and district headquarters in the state were held demanding stoppage of power tariff hike, abolition of private merchant power plants policy and Fuel Surcharge Adjustment. The Left parties appealed to other opposition parties and people to come forward and make the bandh a big success in order to force the state government to relent.


These decisions were taken at a meeting of the ten Left parties held at the state headquarters of CPI, Maqdoom Bhavan, on March 27 after the leaders withdrew the indefinite hunger strike. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and state secretary B V Raghavulu, CPI state secretary K Narayana, Forward Block leader Dayanand, RSP leader Ramesh Naik, CPI(ML) New Democracy leader Diwakar and leaders of CPI(ML), MCPI(U), SUCI, CPI(ML) Liberation began their hunger strike on March 23 at Indira Park, Hyderabad.


During the four days of the Left leaders' hunger strike, the issue of power woes came to the centre-stage of the state politics. Leaders of all opposition parties, TDP, YSRCP, TRS, Lok Satta visited the hunger strike camp and expressed support to the struggle. The government was forced to concede a full day of discussion on this issue in the assembly session.  Replying to the discussion today, chief minister Kiran Kumar remained adamant about the issue saying the government had no option but to increase the tariff.


Sensing the widespread support the struggle of Left parties was evoking, the government resorted to brutal crackdown on the hunger strike camp on March 26 night. On the fourth day of indefinite hunger strike by the Left parties leaders against power tariff hike and FSA, the police resorted to high-handedness and disrupted the hunger strike camp. Around 8:30 pm, the police in large numbers swooped down on the camp at Indira park. Despite resistance by the cadre of Left parties, the police arrested the leaders, including CPI(M) Polit Bureau member B V Raghavulu, CPI state secretary K Narayana and others and forcibly shifted them to Gandhi hospital. 


The Left leaders asserted that the struggle will be intensified in the coming days and that they will not be cowed down by government's high-handed behaviour. All opposition parties have condemned the forcible removal of Left parties leaders from the hunger strike camp.


On the same day when the Left leaders hunger strike camp was disrupted by the police, 26 TDP MLAs began their indefinite hunger strike on this issueat MLA Quarters in Hyderguda. Their agitation went on for three days when the police disrupted their camp also by arresting the MLAs and shifting them to hospital. The Left leaders visited the hunger strike camp of TDP leaders and extended their support to their strugle.


Similarly, BJP leaders too went on indefinite hunger strike led by its state president G Kishen Reddy. Left leaders extended their support by visiting the BJP hunger strike camp.


At the time of writing this report, YSRCP president Vijayamma's indefinite hunger strike entered third day on April 4 at Indira Park amidst gathering of scores of YSRCP activists and supporters.   B V Raghavulu and other leaders extended their support to YSRCP struggle.




CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP, Sitaram Yechury has termed the illegal arrests of fasting Left leaders in Hyderabad as a cowardly act of the state government that had become jittery following the good response the Left parties struggle evoked among the people.


In a statement issued late in the night on March 26, Yechury strongly condemned the police crackdown on fasting Left leaders. He pointed out that the government waited till the end of assembly session today to resort to this cowardly act. He warned that the present government will meet the same fate as that of TDP government in 2000 that resorted to suppression of then struggle by Left parties against power tariff hike.