Press Communique

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on 21st and 22nd July, 2001. It has issued the following statement:

Musharraf visit to India

The Agra Summit had raised hopes among the people of both countries that a serious effort is being made to address the problems between India and Pakistan. The CPI(M) had welcomed the invitation to General Musharraf as it stood for both countries having a bilateral dialogue to resolve outstanding issues.

While Kashmir is one of the main issues which has to be discussed, it is unfortunate that the Pakistani side insisted on Kashmir as the exclusive issue and was not prepared to take up other related questions which could have created the atmosphere for dialogue and improving relations. The Pakistani side also would not agree to seriously discuss the problem of armed militancy being promoted from across the border.

It is quite clear now that the Vajpayee government, while extending the invitation to the Pakistani President, did not make sufficient preparations for laying the groundwork for the Summit meeting. There were no prior discussions at the officers’ level nor any attempt to arrive at an agreed agenda for the talks.

Despite the failure to come to an agreed declaration, the Polit Bureau stresses the necessity to continue the dialogue between the two countries. Opportunities for such talks will be available in the coming period at the UN General Assembly in September and the forthcoming SAARC Summit.

The Polit Bureau strongly disapproved of the efforts by the RSS and other chauvinist elements who seek to mount anti-Pakistani propaganda motivated by communal considerations. It is important to continue the bilateral dialogue in order to prevent any third party intervention mainly through the United States.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) further emphasised that the problem in Jammu & Kashmir has to be taken up within the domestic arena. The Vajpayee government has no democratic solution having rejected provision of autonomy to the state. Only by providing maximum autonomy within the ambit of Article 370 can a democratic solution be found. The Polit Bureau also warns against any moves to trifurcate the state of Jammu & Kashmir on a communal basis. This will only play into the hands of the religious fundamentalists and have adverse consequences for the secular character of the Indian State.

UTI Crash — Finance Minister Must Quit

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) expressed its deep concern at the mismanagement and criminal misuse of the US-64 funds which has led to the suspension of sale and re-purchase of the units under this scheme. Despite the crisis in 1998 affecting the UTI, for three years, the BJP-led government took no steps to rectify and improve the functioning. Two crore investors, most of them small investors, face the threat of their savings being eroded. The government has removed the UTI Chairman and there are criminal proceedings instituted against him by the CBI. This shows the rot which has affected the institution.

However, the efforts of the Finance Minister to distance himself from the UTI crisis is unacceptable. Everyone knows that the Finance Ministry has a regular and direct says in the running of the fund. Many of the wrong decisions taken by UTI have emanated from the government. One such instance was the bail out of the Calcutta brokers who were in trouble. The three-member probe instituted does not cover the responsibility of the Finance Ministry.

The UTI crash is just the latest in a series of scandals which involves the Finance Minister. Nothing short of the resignation of the Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha will serve to underline this direct responsibility. The CPI(M) demands that the Finance Minister quit forthwith.

Economic Slowdown

The Polit Bureau expressed its serious apprehension about the worsening economic situation. All indicators of the economy show a slowdown with the rate of industrial growth declining rapidly. The employment prospects also have shrunk badly given these recessionary conditions. The BJP-led government’s economic policies are responsible for this mess.

The Polit Bureau strongly opposed the decision to privatise Air India. After the rejection of the Hinduja bid, there is only a single bidder left. The policy of handing over the national carrier to a private sector company which includes a foreign airline have met with widespread opposition. The government has also disregarded the opinion of the Standing Committee of the concerned Ministry.

Nagaland Cease-fire and Manipur Crisis

The Polit Bureau reiterated its position that the cease-fire accord signed between the government of India and the NSCN(I-M) should be confined to the state of Nagaland. The strong reaction against the territorial extension of the cease-fire in Manipur and the widespread protest and disturbances there are a direct consequence of the wrong and shortsighted stand taken by the Vajpayee government regarding the cease-fire accord.

The Polit Bureau demands that the Vajpayee government take a decision without delay, to revise the accord by deleting the clause extending the cease-fire to the areas outside Nagaland. At the same time, the Central government should ensure that the NSCN(I-M) stops its hostile actions in areas outside Nagaland, including the arming and training of the extremist groups in other North-Eastern states.

Military Collaboration with US

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) noted that the recent visit of the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff marks the effort to revive and deepen the collaboration between the two armed forces. After the Pokhran tests, the cooperation based on the pact signed in 1995 was halted by the United States. Now, more expanded and intensive collaboration is being planned. This will include American personnel being trained in sensitive Indian military installations and the US offering training programmes under its International Military Exchange Training programme. Reports are there that India has also asked for using the resources of the Diego Garcia military base. This goes completely against the stated position of India for the removal of this military base in the Indian Ocean.

The Vajpayee government must give a full account of the plans in this regard. The Polit Bureau decided to conduct an intensive campaign against this type of military collaboration which compromises India’s non-aligned position and subordinates it to the United State’s global hegemonic designs.

Monsoon damage in Kerala

The Polit Bureau expressed its deep sorrow at the severe damage caused by the heavy rains in Kerala which has led to 105 people being killed and thousands of houses destroyed. The total loss is estimated to be over Rs. 500 crores. The agriculture and plantation sector alone suffered a loss of Rs. 150 crore. The Central government has so far announced that it will release a paltry Rs. 26 crores from the calamity relief fund. This is totally inadequate. The Polit Bureau demanded that the Central government immediately provide sufficient funds for the relief and rehabilitation work.