The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met on February 19, 2017 at New Delhi. It has issued the following statement:
State Assembly Elections
The CPI(M) along with other Left parties are together contesting the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur. In Uttar Pradesh, the CPI(M) has fielded candidates in 26 constituencies; in Uttarakhand, it fielded candidates in six constituencies; in Punjab, it fielded in 12 constituencies; and in Manipur, it is contesting two seats.
The CPI(M) along with Left parties are contesting elections with the primary objective of projecting the Left policy alternative before the people appealing to the people to strengthen the Left representation in the respective Assemblies, so that people’s grievances that remain unheard today in these assemblies can be raised by the Left representatives. Through this, the Left parties, particularly the CPI(M), aims to build pressure on the state governments to address these issues and provide the much-needed relief to the people.
In those constituencies where the CPI(M) and the Left candidates are not in the fray, the CPIM) has called for the defeat of the BJP and the candidates of the communal combination. This is essential in order to ensure that the people’s protest against the pincer attack of sharpening communal polarization and imposing unprecedented economic burdens on the people is resisted and eventually defeated. The imposition of unheard of burdens on the people due to the demonetization is also being opposed in this campaign.
In this election campaign to the state assemblies, Prime Minister Modi and the BJP leaders have been focusing on the need to make the funding of political parties more transparent. The PM and the BJP will do well to first be transparent on their own funding. BJP and allies are indulging in massive display of money power in all their election rallies.
The measures announced in the Union Budget for the so-called cleansing of the system of political funding by the Finance Minister constitute a mere eyewash. The reduction of cash donations from the existing Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 2,000; and donations above this amount be made through a digital transaction and the purchase of electoral bonds by donors to be redeemable by the political parties with whom these are deposited do not, in any way, constitute any effective measures.
The CPI(M) has long been suggesting that if the growing excessive use of money power distorting the democratic choices to be made by the people in the electoral process is to be checked, then the first step should be to ban corporate funding to political parties. Secondly, a ceiling must be imposed on the expenditures incurred by a political party during elections. Currently, there is a ceiling on the expenditures incurred by the candidates, but no ceiling or control over the expenditures incurred by the political parties. During the last nearly three years of this BJP government, it has outrightly refused to consider these suggestions. On the issue of electoral reforms, the CPI(M) has been making important suggestions for a long time now.
The CPI(M) had suggested that the electoral system should be changed to adopt a partial proportional representation whereby the true reflection of the people’s democratic choice can be found in government formation. Almost all central governments since independence have formed governments with less than 50 per cent of the popular vote polled in general elections. The current BJP led Modi government has a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha with a mere 31 per cent of the polled vote share; 69 per cent of the people who have voted have voted against the BJP, save except those parties which have subsequently joined the NDA. Democracy as a rule of the majority has not really been implemented in the country. We had earlier proposed that two constituencies can be clubbed into one where one of the individual candidate will contest and in the other people will choose a political party on the basis of its political manifesto, policies and programmes. This will be a better reflection of the democratic choice of the people. Proportional representation also has the advantage of curbing to some extent factors like money power, caste considerations etc as people would be voting for the programmes and policies of the political parties.
Following discussions with other political parties and social organizations and movements, the CPI(M), along with the CPI, proposes to hold a national convention on thoroughgoing electoral reforms shortly. The CPI(M) shall approach other political parties who are willing to take up these substantive issues to be bring into effect the much needed reforms in our electoral process.
Discrimination against SCs and STs
The Polit Bureau expresses its dismay over the meager allocations made in the Union Budget for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. With the abolition of the Planning Commission and the Five Year Plans from this year, the sub-plans for SCs and STs have virtually ceased to exist. As a result, huge amounts that were to be sanctioned for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes today remain unsanctioned. The current union budget allocates a meager 2.44 per cent of the total budgetary outlay for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and a miniscule 1.48 per cent for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes.
In the light of this, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau has decided that in coordination with other Left parties and social movements connected with dalit rights, to demand the following:
1) The denied amounts totalling to SCs (Rs.71,139Cr) and to STs (Rs 34,349 crore) need to be urgently allocated.
2) Legislate Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) for Accountability, Participation and Transparency: A central legislation is required clearly spelling allocations and mechanisms for implementation both at the Union and State Governments level regarding budgetary allocation under Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan.
3) Apart from the 10% specific allocation for women in SCSP-TSP, there should be special mechanism to prioritise women beneficiaries.
4) Release of backlog of over Rs. 12,000 crores earmarked for post matric scholarships for SC/ST students. These monies should be re-allocated to provide the continued benefits to SC/ST students in higher education.
The CPI(M), along with other Left parties from dalit organizations and social movements, will organize popular movements and struggles on these issues and simultaneously raise them in parliamentary fora.
Seminar of South Asian Countries
As a part of the year-long observation of the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Polit Bureau proposes, in accordance with the decision of the last Central Committee meeting, to organize a two-day seminar of Communists and Workers Parties from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in September 2017. The theme of the seminar would focus on confronting “Imperialism, Communalism and Fundamentalism in the Contemporary Era – Abiding Relevance of October Revolution”.
Central Committee Meeting
The next Central Committee meeting will be held on April 18-19, 2017. The Polit Bureau will meet on April 17.