The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on June 24, 25 and 26, 2007. It has issued the following statement:
The Central Committee expressed its serious concern at the manner in which democracy is being curbed in Bangladesh and an authoritarian regime with military support being instituted there. The caretaker authority is being virtually exercised by the military. There are no prospects for an early parliament election. Political parties are not being allowed to function normally and trade union rights are curbed. The army has been entrusted with the work of preparation of a fresh electoral roll with the voters having to enrol themselves by reporting at respective army unit offices.
What is happening in Bangladesh is worrying the Left and democratic forces in India. The CPI(M) supports the demand for the restoration of democratic rights and political activities and holding of early parliament elections.
The Central Committee noted that food prices continue to remain high even though it is claimed that the rate of inflation is coming down. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for the week ending May 26 came down to 4.9 per cent, but the inflation rate for primary articles remains high at 8.6 per cent. Moreover, the separate consumer price indices do not reflect the downward trend of the WPI. Thus the issue of price rise of essential commodities continues to be a burdening problem for the working people. The UPA government has failed to take effective steps to check price rise. The immediate measures required are: 1) Ban futures trading in all essential commodities as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee (2) Since there is no check on inter-State movement of wheat, centre must set central stock limits for wheat and ensure raids against suspected hoarders (3) change the tax regime on petrol and diesel prices (4) strengthen the public distribution system.
The Central Committee noted that the government is yet to take any effective steps for implementing the recommendations of the National Farmers Commission. Instead, the approach and some of the proposals set out on agriculture in the National Development Council will only aggravate the present agrarian crisis. The central question of the financial viability of cultivation was not addressed. The suggestions on contract farming are oriented towards the interests of the corporates. The suggestion to form land share companies in the name of tackling the problem of declining size of land holdings will only help the corporate houses.
Food Policies and PDS
The direction of the food policies of the UPA government is a matter of deep concern. The public distribution system is being systematically weakened. The root cause is the refusal to reverse the targeted system which has excluded large sections of the poor from the right to food and to re-establish a universal system. The privatisation of procurement of foodgrains has resulted in a situation where even the lowest target ever of 150 lakh tonnes of wheat set has not been reached. Only 109 lakh tonnes of wheat have been procured.
The Central Committee condemned the cuts in allocation of foodgrains to the public distribution system. The allocation for BPL cardholders has come down. The allocation for the Antodaya scheme has also fallen far short of the promised coverage of 2.5 crore families. The above poverty line (APL) are sought to be removed from the PDS with the allocation of wheat to them being cut.
This comes at a time when there is growing malnutrition. The National Family Health Survey, 2005-2006 shows that 56.2 per cent of all women and 58.2 per cent of rural women suffer from anaemia.
Expand BPL and PDS
The Central Committee demanded the expansion of the lists of BPL beneficiaries by changing the unreasonable criteria and patently incorrect estimates made on the basis of the Planning Commission’s guidelines. Reports from the states show that BPL cardholders are restricted and there is no issuance of cards to genuine families below the poverty line. The UPA government must immediately revise the guidelines and ensure the states get adequate allocations for the expansion of the BPL beneficiaries.
The Central Committee was of the opinion that the draft Bill for social security for unorganised workers approved by the Cabinet is totally inadequate. The government should discuss the matter afresh with the trade unions and political parties and come out with a fresh draft.
The Central Committee endorsed the stand of the Party on regulation of retail trade. Apart from not allowing FDI, there has to be regulation of entry of big corporates into retail trade. The Party will mobilise people, particularly the small traders and shopkeepers in support of this stand for regulation.
The rules under the Forest Tribal Act have not yet been framed. Utilising this delay, the Forest department is resorting to large-scale evictions in various states. These evictions should stop and the rules finalized quickly.
Women’s Reservation Bill
The Central Committee expressed its disappointment at the failure of the UPA government to introduce the women’s reservation bill so far. The Party will make renewed efforts to ensure that the Bill is brought to Parliament during the next session.
Indo-US Nuclear Agreement
The Central Committee was of the firm opinion that the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress sets terms and conditions which are not acceptable for the nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. The UPA government should not try to clinch an agreement by compromising on vital issues or by trying to avoid such issues in the 123 bilateral agreement.
The UPA government must realise the serious consequences of compromising on such an agreement which will have permanent repercussions on our national interests and foreign policy.
Uttar Pradesh Elections
The Central Committee reviewed the UP assembly election results. The election results have shown the weakness of the Party’s base among the working people. Steps to build united movements of working class, peasantry and other oppressed sections and steps to counter the growing caste appeal need to be taken by the Party.
The Central Committee endorsed the stand taken by the Polit Bureau to support the UPA nominee, Smt. Pratibha Patil, for President. The CPI(M) is especially happy to support the election of the first woman President in the country. The Central Committee criticised the BJP for putting up Shri Shekhawat as an independent, when it is a fact that he has been a lifelong adherent of the RSS and a leader of the BJP.
Attitude to UPA Government
The CPI(M) will discuss with the Left parties on the approach to be taken vis-à-vis the UPA government, particularly on the important policy issues and problems affecting the people.
PB Action Endorsed
The Central Committee endorsed the suspension of Comrade V. S. Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan from the membership of the Polit Bureau. It decided to take stock of the situation in the next meeting of the Central Committee.
The Central Committee decided to hold the 19th Congress of the Party by the end of March 2008. The Congress will be held at Coimbatore in Tamilnadu. The timetable for the conferences from the branch to the state level have been finalised.
Call for Movement on People’s Issues
The Central Committee decided that on the vital problems faced by the working class, peasantry, agricultural workers, unemployed youth, women, small shopkeepers and the common people, the Party should conduct a two-week campaign and movement on the demands which the Party is raising regarding these issues. The state committees of the Party will concretise the demands on the following issues for the campaign: 1) Demand to curb price rise, 2) PDS for all, 3) farmer’s problems, 4) retail trade, 5) curb unemployment, 6) women’s reservation Bill, 7) fight communalism, 8) Indo-US nuclear cooperation.
Since the urgent issue facing the people all over the country is the non-issuance of BPL and Antodaya cards and steps to restrict the PDS in all the states, during this fortnight, there will be a day chosen for picketing of Central government offices demanding change in the criteria and policy of issuing BPL cards and for expanding the Antodaya cardholders.