People's Democracy

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


No. 03

January 19, 2014


Kerala: Indefinite Hunger Strike against LPG Price Rise


ON January 15, the CPI(M) launched a massive struggle against the hikes in the prices of cooking gas and of other essential commodities, with an indefinite hunger strikes in 1,400 centres all across Kerala. As many as 10 centres in each of the 140 assembly constituencies witnessed a mass mobilisation with red flags since the early morning. The hunger strikes started in all the 1,400 centres at 10 a m sharp.


CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the struggle at Vyttila in Eranakulam district. Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan inaugurated it at the Housing Board junction at Thiruvananthapuram. Central Committee members A Vijayaraghavan, Paloli Muhammed Kutti, P Karunakaran, Dr Thomas Issac, P K Srimathi and M C Josephine inaugurated the hunger strikes in various other centres.  


The hunger strike was undertaken because of the sudden increase in LPG price and the central government’s move to deny subsidies by connecting the LPG supply with Aadhar cards.


The hunger strike was undertaken by a local leader in each centre, while many CPI(M) workers sat on a hunger strike in solidarity. Leaders and workers from the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and various other political parties too visited the pandals.


As CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters in a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, the party had decided to launch these indefinite hunger strikes against the centre’s policy leading to periodic hikes in the price of LPG. The indefinite struggle was to be conducted in 1,400 centres across the state from January 15 onwards, with one leader in each centre sitting on the indefinite hunger strike and thousands of people gathering there to express solidarity. The CPI(M) state secretariat had finalised the modalities of the struggle, he added.


As per the programme chalked out, thousands of families would join the struggle everyday. The hope is that the protest mounted by the people of Kerala would reverberate all over the country. The masses whose burden had amplified due to the LPG price hike and the Aadhar card imbroglio, will be a part of this struggle. No time span for the struggle has been fixed.


Vijayan accused the centre of looting the people by curtailing the subsidies while, at the same time, bestowing tax exemption upon the corporate giants. He said the Aadhar scheme was introduced only to minimise the subsidies for the people. The LPG price hikes are meant to appease the companies like Reliance and Essar. Veerappa Moily, the central minister for oil and natural gas, has repeatedly ruled out any rollback of the price hikes. He is thus protecting the interest of the monopolies. This hike is a result of the pro-rich liberalisation policies, the CPI(M) leader said. When Manmohan Singh became the prime minister, the price of an LPG cylinder was Rs 150 and now it has reached to the level of Rs 1294 for a non-subsidised cylinder. People have been squeezed by the centre which provides huge tax benefits to the monopolies. There is no justification for this price hike as the international price of the crude oil has been decreasing. Vijayan also ridiculed the way the Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy has justified the centre’s decision.


In the meanwhile, the state assembly also witnessed hullabaloo and a protest action against the LPG price rise. As the speaker denied permission to Dr Thomas Isaac to move an adjournment motion on this issue, the opposition LDF staged a walkout.