(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 25 , 2013
The Present Crisis and Our Tasks
THE UPA government is embroiled in a looming crisis which has both political and economic dimensions. The shadow of the economic crisis is eroding the political authority of the government. The rupee has steadily depreciated in value, with the exchange rate of the rupee to the dollar breaching the Rs 64 mark last week; the current account deficit (the gap between exports and imports and other remittances) has reached an unsustainable level; there is rising external debt with the bourgeoning short-term debt posing the immediate problem. This financial crisis is accompanied by high inflation.
The past few months saw the frantic efforts of the finance minister to get FDI into the country by easing norms. This has proved futile. The bulk of the capital flows out of the country is from the equity and debt markets, the FII flows which the government cannot control. The neo-liberal policies of the Manmohan Singh government and the boosting of the economy through foreign capital flows have now come to roost.
While the UPA government desperately wooed foreign capital and handed out concessions to big business, the plight of the people has been worsening because of the economic slowdown, falling industrial production and the high inflation. The ever increasing prices of petrol and diesel have fuelled inflation which resulted in the increased burden of price rise for the people. Onions, vegetables and all the necessities of life are becoming out of the reach of the people. The other outcome of the economic slowdown is the loss of jobs in the industrial and services sectors and rising unemployment.
The Congress is hoping that the passage of the food security law will help to mitigate the growing discontent of the people. But the political cost for the Congress and the UPA government due to the economic mess is going to be heavy. They will be blamed for the high level corruption which has contributed to the deterioration of the economy. The 200 missing files in the coal allocation scandal will only reinforce the image of a government trying to protect the corrupt. The incompetence and the failure to tackle the economic crisis at the early stages will also add to the cost.
It is in the midst of the deteriorating economy that the Congress leadership and the UPA government decided to divide Andhra Pradesh and form the state of Telangana. This announcement has come after four years of vacillations and prevarication. The disturbing fact is that the cause for the decision is the electoral prospects of the Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Having lost its base to the YSR Congress in the coastal and Rayalseema regions, the Congress decided to plunge for the Telangana state in anticipation of electoral benefit in the new state. The opportunist manner in which a new state is being formed can be seen by the further exploration of whether the creation of Rayala-Telangana by adding two districts of Rayalseema will be beneficial to the Congress. The cynical way the Congress is going about the formation of a new state will cause damage to the democratic system and the federal structure.
The immediate fallout of the Telangana decision has been the revival and intensification of the agitation for separate states in other places. In Assam, the agitation for Bodoland has led to bandhs and disruption of communications. Another demand for separate state including Karbi Anglong and Dimasa districts has also led to clashes. There is also the demand for Kamtapuri state involving areas of lower Assam and parts of West Bengal. These agitations have disrupted normal life and inflicted economic losses in Assam and the North Eastern region. The Gorkhaland agitation has also been revived with bandhs and indefinite shut downs in the Darjeeling hill areas of West Bengal. Both the Congress and the BJP are working to undermine the linguistic states’ system. If they succeed, it will weaken the federal set up and will result in strengthening the dominance of the centre.
RISING COMMUNAL THREAT
The political situation is marked by the rising activities of the communal forces spearheaded by the BJP-RSS combine. The projection of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP; the spurt in communal activities and the growing incidents of communal violence are all interrelated. The RSS pushed for Narendra Modi’s projection and in the period since the Goa meeting of the BJP, it has become patently clear that the Hindutva platform–a mix of communalism along with the nationalist jingoism–will be Modi’s main thrust even though it is couched in the “development” framework of the Gujarat model. The big bourgeoisie which is turned off by the UPA government’s economic mismanagement is rooting for Modi. This rightwing platform consisting of Hindutva and big business support is presented as the alternative to the discredited Congress.
The RSS and the BJP are falling back on their tried and tested method of instigating communal tensions and violence. The recent communal riot in Kishtwar district in Jammu & Kashmir and the series of incidents in Bihar reveal their handiwork. The BJP which was in the coalition government with the JD(U) had used its prolonged alliance to spread the RSS and the BJP’s influence in the state. Now that it is out of the government, the RSS-BJP network is resorting to communal mobilisation. The communal incidents in Nawada and Bettiah saw the blatant use of provocative slogans including the invocation of the name of Narendra Modi by rioters. The media even carried a photograph of a man dressed as Narendra Modi sitting in the religious procession taken out in Bettiah. The BJP hypocritically argues that communal incidents are taking place in states run by non-BJP governments. Whether it is Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and now Bihar, the BJP-RSS combine resorts to communal and anti-Muslim activities to shore up its political support base and this is getting intensified in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections.
The RSS orchestrated Vishwa Hindu Parishad has announced a yatra in six districts to culminate in Ayodhya on the Ram temple issue. VHP leaders have announced that they will take out the yatra despite it being prohibited by the UP state government. All over the country, the RSS and its outfits are intensifying their activities in order to back up the election campaign led by Narendra Modi.
STEP UP STRUGGLES
The worsening economic situation presages more problems for the people and their living conditions. The attacks on the people’s livelihood and growing burdens require that the Party and the Left and democratic forces step up their struggles against the onslaught of the neo-liberal policies and its impact on the people.
In the recent period, there was the struggle of the workers of Neyveli Lignite Corporation against the disinvestment of shares. The thirteen day united strike struggle was successful in that the government was compelled to sell 3.56 per cent shares to the public undertakings of the Tamilnadu government. Thereby disinvestment of shares to private hands was avoided. The coal workers are preparing for a three day strike against disinvestment of shares in the Coal India Ltd. The joint platform of the national trade unions have called for state level rallies on December 12.
Along with the working class struggles, there are ongoing struggles of the kisans, agricultural workers, students, women and youth. They all need greater coordination and the building up of united platforms to face the more difficult economic conditions and the additional burdens being imposed on the people.
On the issue of price rise, land, wages, employment and PDS, the Party should conduct local struggles in order to protect the rights of the working people. As against the Congress and the BJP, the Left parties have put out an alternative platform of policies which should get the support of other democratic and secular forces. The Left parties will be conducting a campaign among the people to mobilise support for this alternative platform by holding rallies in the state capitals in the coming two months.
The CPI(M) has to step up its anti-communal campaign and expose the designs of the BJP and the RSS. It is also necessary to have a broad-based mobilisation against the communal forces and the designs of the Hindutva brigade. An anti-communal platform should be forged to bring all these forces together.
The struggles against the economic policies and corruption of the UPA government and the broad-based campaign against the communal forces should be carried out along with the projection of the alternative policies which alone can help the country come out of the present economic and political impasse.