The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in Kolkata on August 6 & 7, 2011. It has issued the following statement:
The Central Committee discussed the international and national political situation.
Global Economic Crisis
The Central Committee noted that the global economy is yet to recover from the economic crisis which started in 2008. The recent debt ceiling crisis in the US and the continuing sovereign debt problem in some of the European Union countries show how the neo-liberal policies have reached a dead end. After bailing out the bankers and private financial institutions, the governments in Europe and the United States are imposing austerity measures which have to be borne by the people. The spending cuts imposed in the United States will weaken the welfare programmes and worsen the economic slowdown. High unemployment and cuts in pensions and welfare benefits are leading to widespread protests by the workers, students and youth in different countries of Europe.
The UPA government in India is not learning any lessons from this financial and economic crisis and continues to adhere to neo-liberal policies which are worsening the conditions of the people with relentless prices rise, lack of employment opportunities and rampant corruption.
Engulfed by Corruption
The UPA government has become synonymous with high level corruption. Fresh corruption scandals involving the higher echelons of the government are coming out every day. Apart from the 2G spectrum case there has been massive corruption involved in the KG Basin gas contract, as per the draft report submitted by the CAG. In the Commonwealth Games corruption, the involvement of the Delhi government and other Central Government agencies in corrupt practices has been uncovered in the CAG report submitted to parliament.
Whether it be the 2G Spectrum affair or the KG Basic gas contract issue or the appointment of Suresh Kalmadi as the Chairman of the CWG Organising Committee, the role of the Prime Minister is questionable. In both the 2G and KG basinmatters, the Prime Minister was fully aware of the developments but did not stop the wrong doings. The Prime Minister has to own up responsibility for presiding over this corrupt regime.
The Central Committees wishes to underline that it is the neo-liberal policies pursued which has made the UPA government act as the facilitator and handmaiden of the loot of public resources by big business and corporates. High level corruption stems directly from this economic regime.
The loot of natural resources is graphically illustrated by the rampant illegal mining which is taking place. The Lokayukta report in Karnataka has documented how largescale iron ore mining was taking place illegally with the connivance of the BJP state government. Acting on the Lokayukta’s report, prosecution must be launched against the corrupt practices of the former Chief Minister Yedyurappa, the others named in the report and the companies involved in this loot.
The CPI(M) has already spelt out what type of legislation is required in order to constitute an effective Lokpal. The government’s draft of the Lokpal Bill is weak and ineffective. It does not bring the Prime Minister under the purview of the Lokpal. Nor does it arm the Lokpal with effective powers to take action against high level corruption by making it an independent body. In this connection, the Central Committee decided to conduct a campaign for an effective Lokpal and to mobilize public opinion for it. The CPI(M) has also demanded a set of measures to curb high-level corruption which includes the setting up of a national judicial commission to check corruption in the higher judiciary, electoral reforms to curb use of money power in elections and steps to unearth black money and bring back the illegal money stashed abroad.
Price Rise & Inflation
The Central Committee condemned the government’s successive increase in the prices of petroleum products including the latest increase in the prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. The inflation rate is ranging between 9 to 10 per cent and the food inflation rate continues to be high. The recent debate in the Lok Sabha on price rise shows the unwillingness of the government to take effective and necessary measures to curb price rise.
The Central Committee noted that the Central Government and the BJP came to an agreed text and voted for the resolution which does not ascribe the responsibility on the government for its failure to check price rise nor does it demand withdrawal of the increase in the prices of the petroleum products. The Left parties and some of the secular opposition parties pressed for an amendment on the resolution and walked out in protest. The Central Committee called upon all the Party units to continue the struggle against price rise and to demand changes in the tax structure of petroleum products.
Food Security Bill
The Government has finalized the Food Security Bill. It has rejected the demand for a universal public distribution system and continued the targeted system with only a change in the nomenclature of BPL and APL. The Bill legalizes the present objectionable linkages between the Planning Commission’s poverty estimates with the Statewise caps on those who may be officially recognized as poor. This is capped at 46 per cent of the population in rural areas and 28 per cent in urban areas. Thus a vast section of the poor will continue to be excluded. At present the national average of those benefiting from BPL schemes through State Government subsidies is over 56 per cent. Secondly the price of rice, which is two rupees in many States, has been kept at three rupees. Thirdly the BPL allocation amount is 7 kg per individual while for APL it will be only 3 kg. The number of APL card holders may also be cut since 25 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population are to be excluded by law. APL sections have been discriminated against also on the question of prices, as the price of APL rice will not be a fixed price but 50 per cent of the minimum support price for foodgrains. Thus the seeds of a conflict of interest have been sown between the farmer and the consumer.
In a objectionable move, the Bill makes it mandatory for State Governments to accept a central scheme for introduction of cash transfers instead of foodgrains. This will adversely impact on food security and also impact on procurement and on protection for farmers.
The CPI(M) demands a comprehensive Food Security law which provides for a universal public distribution system.
The Central Committee discussed the Party’s approach to land acquisition. It reiterated the need for a composite Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act to replace the existing 1894 Land Acquisition Act.
FDI In Retail
The Central Committee strongly opposed the proposed move to open retail further to FDI by allowing it in the multi-brand sector. The UPA government is serving the interests of the big US multinationals like Walmart and giving the specious plea that bringing foreign investment in retail trade will help check price rise.
The Central Committee warned the government not to proceed with the FDI in retail. It called upon all forces who want to protect the interests of the lakhs of shopkeepers and traders to unitedly build a movement against the entry of multinationals in retail.
The Central Committee noted with concern that terrorist violence continues to occur. The three blasts in Mumbai city in July is the latest instance. It is a matter of concern that those responsible for the Mumbai blasts and other recent blasts like the German Bakery in Pune have not been identified or apprehended. This shows the continuing failure of the intelligence set up and the lack of coordination among various security agencies.
Though seven months have passed since the submission of the Sri Krishna Committee report, the Central Government has not taken any decision on the issue of Telengana and the future of Andhra Pradesh. The delay in taking a decision is aggravating the situation in the state. Divisons among the people on regional lines are growing. The Central Committee demanded that the Central Government take a decision without any more delay.
West Bengal Situation
The Central Committee condemned the continuous attacks and violence directed against the CPI(M) and the Left Front in West Bengal. Since the election results 30 members and supporters of the CPI(M) have been killed, hundreds of Party offices have been attacked or occupied, panchayat members are being intimidated and prevented from doing their work, there are still thousands of people who have left their homes and are not able to return.
Under the new regime, attacks are taking place on the rights of bargadars, pattadars and agricultural workers in many places. An effort is being made to do away with the gains made by the peasantry and the rural poor in the past three decades. The TMC led government has not taken any steps to stop these attacks and to take action against those responsible.
The CPI(M) and the Left has been conducting a campaign all over the country against the violence in West Bengal and for the defence of democracy. The persisting attacks and violence in West Bengal is an assault on the democratic rights and will be harmful for democracy in the country.
Sri Lanka Tamils Issue
The Central Committee noted that though two years have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan government has not taken any worthwhile steps to reach a political settlement on the Tamil question. Though President Rajapakse had promised that after the war a political settlement would be found, no progress has been made. It is essential that specific measures are taken for the devolution of autonomy to the Tamil-speaking areas of the Northern and Eastern regions so that the Tamil people can live a life of dignity and as equal citizens within a united Sri Lanka.
Along with this the Sri Lankan government should step up efforts to rehabilitate all the displaced persons affected due to the conflict. The serious allegations of atrocities and human rights violation by the armed forces should be enquired into by a high level independent enquiry. The government of India should make all necessary efforts to ensure that a political settlement is arrived at without any further delay.
The Central Committee decided to hold the 20th Congress of the Party at Kozhikode in Kerala. The Congress will be held from 4 to 9 April, 2012. The Central Committee decided on the state-wise number of delegates to be elected to attend the Congress.
The Central Committee decided to conduct the following actions and programmes in the coming days:
(i) The Party and the Left demands an effective Lokpal law and other anti-corruption measures. For this, the Left parties will hold a demonstration outside parliament on September 2.
(ii) The Party will continue the campaign to stop the violence against the CPI(M) and the Left in West Bengal, all over the country. The Left Front of West Bengal will hold a protest dharna in Delhi on August 25. On that day, in all the state capitals, protest meetings will be held and memorandums handed over to the Governors.
(iii) The Party will conduct a campaign for an effective food security law which includes a universal public distribution system. The Party will work to see that the enrolment of the people under the BPL category is done by including all sections of the poor.
(iv) The Party will mobilize people to oppose FDI in retail along with the trade unions and traders organizations.
(v) The Party will extend its full support to the untied trade union actions and the strike struggles of workers belonging to various sectors. The Party will conduct movements against price rise and join the struggle against land grab by corporates and in defence of farmers rights.