The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi from 20th to 22nd November 1999. It has issued the following statement:
Review of Lok Sabha
The Central Committee conducted a review of the Lok Sabha elections and the performance of the Party. Based on this review the Central Committee decided to initiate certain immediate political and organisational measures to strengthen the Party and to develop the mass movements.
The Central Committee noted that with the assumption to office of the BJP-led government, a series of measures have been taken which indicate clearly the nature of the policies and the orientation of the new government.
The Vajpayee government is going full steam ahead with a package of economic policies which are designed to privatise the public sector, open up all sectors of the economy to foreign capital and virtually under writing the charter demanded by the big business houses.
Within days of the assumption of office, the Vajpayee government has begun largescale disinvestment of profitable public sector units. Sale of GAIL shares at scandalously low prices to foreign MNCs like Enron and British Gas. Another shocking proposal is for the National Thermal Power Corporation to buy the government's stake in the National Hydro Power Corporation for Rs 4500 crores, the proceeds of which would be used to bridge the fiscal deficit of the government. The privatisation of the oil, power and telecom sectors are all meant for generating funds to bridge the fiscal deficit and not for raising the production capacities of the public sector.
A major concession to foreign finance capital is the proposed move to open up the insurance sector. The introduction of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority bill will mark the beginning of the privatisation of the insurance. The Verma Committee has already proposed privatisation of the nationalised banking sector. The Vajpayee government will be presiding over the handing over of the vital financial sector to speculative foreign capital.
The Finance Minister has stated that Rs 90 thousand crores were going towards interest payment annually. This is an admission that the government is in a debt trap. The financial mess in which the Centre finds itself is sought to be met by passing, one burden after another, on to the people. The diesel price hike was one such step. The Central Committee warns the Vajpayee government that administrative price hikes and increase in the issue prices through the public distribution system which will affect the common people cannot be tolerated.
Another aspect of the serious economic crisis is the worsening financial situation of the state governments. Many of the state governments are running huge deficits and are unable to even pay salaries to their employees. 24 state governments have altogether demanded Rs. 15 thousand crores from the Centre to meet their financial demands. The debt servicing and administrative expenditure are far more than the income of the states. It is essential that a special conference be convened of the Centre and the states to discuss how to meet this unprecedented situation.
Push for Communal Agenda
The Vajpayee government has wasted no time in declaring its intention to push for saffronisation of the education, media and the cultural sphere. The appointments made to key positions in the Indian Council of Historical Research, the ICSSR and the NCERT are the prelude to a systematic plan to remould the educational and higher research bodies in tune with the sectarian communal outlook.
The Prasar Bharati is to have no autonomy and will revert back to being a department of the government. This is the meaning of the demand for "accountability" on the part of the Prasar Bharati. The arbitrary removal of two members of the Prasar Bharati Board, Romila Thapar and Rajendra Yadav is an open declaration that only those who are allied to the BJP-RSS outlook or, willing to go alongwith their view point can be in such policy making bodies.
Despite the pretense that the Hindutva agenda of the BJP-RSS will not be part of the programme of the new government, the widespread anti-Christian propaganda which was conducted on the occasion of the Pope's visit is a signal that the RSS outfits will continue with their anti-minority communal propaganda and for efforts to communalise different aspects of society.
The Central Committee noted with concern that the BJP leadership is contemplating measures to refashion the State institutions in the name of forging an "effective State". The recent speech of the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani at the FICCI seminar has set out a blueprint for an authoritarian State and for reworking the institutions and the political system towards this. Similar is the aim of the proposed commission to review the Indian Constitution.
The BJP-led government has no intention of respecting the federal principle. The BJP president has already demanded that President's rule should be imposed in Tripura. Senior BJP leaders are sought to be appointed as governors. The legitimate demands of the states whether it be financial or administrative are treated in a partisan manner.
Oppose IRDA Bill
The Central Committee decided to accord priority to the struggle to oppose the opening up of the insurance sector and further moves to privatise the banking sector. The IRDA bill is to be opposed. The united struggle which has been launched by the insurance and banking unions with the support of the entire trade union movement in the country has to be supported by all democratic and patriotic sections. The Central Committee decided to extend its full support and cooperation to this united movement.
The Central Committee demanded an immediate halt to the disinvestment of the shares of profitable PSUs. The method of cross purchase of shares by PSU units and diverting the proceeds of the sale of shares to bridge the budgetary deficit must be halted. The CPI(M) alongwith all other Left forces will actively mobilise all sections of the working class against these policies. It will extend its full support and solidarity with any struggle against the privatisation and the dismantling of the public sector.
Attitude of Congress
In this connection, the Central Committee noted that the Congress party basically supports the economic policies of the BJP government. The speech of Ms. Sonia Gandhi in the recent FICCI meeting follows the Congress manifesto in pushing for further liberalisation and privatisation. The Congress party refuses to learn any lessons from its alienation from the people as a result of the economic policies it pursued since 1991. As far as economic policies are concerned, the Congress is a willing accomplice of the BJP led government.
Strategic Partnership with the US
The previous stint of the Vajpayee government had resulted in a major shift in foreign policy and in relations with the United States. After eight rounds of talks with the US, India signaled its willingness to act as a junior partner to the US global strategy. The advent of the second Vajpayee government has been accompanied by the call for a strategic partnership between India and the US. The US Congress has adopted a resolution on these lines.
The Central Committee of the CPI(M) noted that the Vajpayee government is continuing with its clandestine diplomacy with the US. The ninth round of the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott talks has been held in London. The CPI(M) demands that this pernicious practice of holding secret talks in third countries stop immediately. The Vajpayee government is unable to resist American pressures. It talks about creating a consensus to sign the CTBT even after the rejection of its ratification by the US Senate.
The Central Committee expressed its strong opposition to India continuing its military collaboration agreement with the US and the resumption of the US sponsored training programme for the Indian armed forces under the International Military Exchange and Training programme.
The Central Committee decided to launch a broad-based anti-imperialist campaign on a range of issues connected with the US pressures on India and the efforts to subvert economic and political sovereignty. Such a campaign will be conducted in connection with the proposed visit to India by President Clinton.
The severe cyclone which has devastated Orissa has been an unprecedented calamity. 17 million people in 13 districts have been badly affected. Relief and rehabilitation work which is required is on a scale which is unprecedented in independent India. The demand that the Orissa cyclone be declared a national calamity was meant to accord the necessary priority to meet such a disaster. The refusal of the central government to do so is unjustified. The assistance to Orissa should not become a matter of political maneouvres. There has to be special provision of funds made for the reconstruction work in Orissa. All political parties will support the government in making such a provision.
The Central Committee heard a report of the relief and rehabilitation work being undertaken by the Orissa unit of the Party. The Central Committee called upon all its units to step up fund collection for the relief work being conducted by the Party in Orissa.
The Central Committee expressed its grave concern at the intensified attacks of the extremist groups on the ordinary people especially after the elections. The massacre of 18 persons in Panchabati in the Sadar subdivision and the killing of policemen and largescale abduction and kidnappings have all taken place in the background of the withdrawal of the central paramilitary forces and the army from Tripura over the past six months.
The extremist violence against the non-tribal people is a diabolic plan to provoke ethnic conflict. It is disturbing that parties like the Trinamul Congress, the BJP and the Congress are organizing protests in the affected areas which only heighten tensions and increase the possibility of confrontation between communities. The Tripura state government has been urging the central government not to withdraw the security forces and to re-deploy them in the state. The Central government is well aware that Tripura has over 850 km of international borders. In fact the spurt in extremist activities is directly attributed to their taking shelter across the border according to the central government's own assessment. Despite this, the prolonged failure to send adequate forces to Tripura can only be explained as politically motivated. While the central government refuses to act, the ruling party at the centre demands imposition of president's rule.
The Central Committee denounced the Congress party's demand for dismissal of the state government and imposition of President's rule. The Congress party has a dark history of repeated misuse of Article 356. It seems its authoritarian habits cannot be shed. The Congress party has lost the Lok Sabha elections in 5 states where it runs state governments. It is better the Congress leadership address itself to regaining the confidence of the people in these states rather than advocating dismissal of an elected state government.
The Central government should immediately despatch sufficient security forces to the state and help secure the international borders by barbed wire fencing in sensitive sectors.
Military Coup In Pakistan
The military coup in Pakistan and the imposition of martial law by Gen. Parvez Musharraf are unfortunate events. Military rule will provide no solutions to the chronic problems facing the country and democracy must be restored without delay. The Pakistan army is increasingly known to have links with fundamentalist outfits. The United States has signaled its willingness to do business with the new regime. In the background of the stepped up extremist attacks in Kashmir, the role of the military regime will have to be closely watched.
Develop Mass Movements
The Central Committee decided that the Party must take the initiative to oppose any move to push forward the communal agenda by the BJP-RSS combine; in view of the worsening economic situation, the Party would actively organise resistance of all sections of the people against the harmful economic policies, in particular, the current attack on the financial sector and the public sector. The Central Committee called upon all its units to develop mass movements and protest actions on all these aspects at various levels. The Party will seek to draw in other democratic and secular parties in joint actions in defence of people's rights. The election results have proved that the Congress, with its present policies, cannot provide the alternative to the BJP. The Central Committee reiterated its resolve to work for the reforging of the third alternative so that an effective force can be built up against the BJP.