The Central Committee of the CPI(M) met in New Delhi from March 31 to April 2, 2007. It has issued the following statement:
Inflation & Price Rise
The Central Committee noted with concern that the rate of inflation continues to be high with the wholesale price index registering an increase of 6.42 per cent on March 2. The continuous price rise of food items and essential commodities is having a deleterious affect on the lives of the people. The UPA government failed to take prompt measures required to tackle inflation and the price rise.
The Central Committee criticised the government for not putting curbs on futures trading in essential commodities and revising the petroleum tax structure. It has weakened the public distribution system instead of strengthening it and failed to ensure adequate procurement of foodgrains. The CPI(M) had demanded a rollback in the petroleum prices to the pre-June 2006 level. The government met this demand only partially in December 2006 and belatedly reduced the prices to the 2006 level in mid-February after the inflation had gone out of control.
In the Union Budget, the government has confined itself to reduce the ad valorem duty on petroleum products by 2 per cent instead of doing away with the ad valorem structure itself. After resisting the demand that futures trading in foodgrains be halted, on the eve of the budget, the government announced a ban on futures trading in wheat and rice. The government has not accepted the recommendations of the standing committee of parliament on curbing futures trading.
The Central Committee has called upon all its Party units to step up the struggle against price rise with the demand for urgent steps to strengthen and expand the public distribution system and firm action against hoarding and speculation in essential commodities. There has to be a stoppage of futures trading in all essential commodities and revision of the petroleum tax structure, doing away with the ad valorem system.
FDI and Organised Sector in Retail Trade
The Central Committee reiterated its opposition to opening up retail trade to FDI. In this connection, the Central Committee condemned the moves to open upon FDI in retail in a piecemeal fashion. The commerce minister has floated the proposal of opening up more sectors for FDI in retail trade like sports goods, electrical and consumer electronic goods.
The other danger is the entry on a large scale of the organised sector with big companies entering the retail trade. The impact of organised trade entry is similar to that of FDI in retail trade in displacing small shopkeepers and traders. There has to be regulations and curbs on the organised sector in the retail trade.
The Central Committee demanded that the Central government make substantial changes in the SEZ Act and rules on the lines of the proposals made by the Left parties. There has to be an upper limit on the land provided for SEZs. The CPI(M) has suggested that multi-product SEZs should not have land beyond 2000 hectares. It is also necessary to decide which industries require SEZs. No scope should be given for real estate speculation. The exorbitant tax concessions provided for SEZs must be curtailed.
The CPI(M) cannot accept the SEZ Act and rules in the present form and will continue to demand changes in the SEZ Act and Rules both within and outside parliament.
Supreme Court Stay on OBC Reservation
The Central Committee demanded that the Central Government speedily take steps to overcome the stay given by the two-member bench of the Supreme Court on the implementation of the `Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006' for OBCs in the Centrally run educational institutions.
The Central Committee expressed concern at the growing trend of judicial encroachment in the spheres of the executive and parliament.
The Central Committee expressed its apprehensions on the Supreme Court judgement on the Ninth schedule of the Constitution making laws to be in the Ninth schedule subject to judicial scrutiny. The basic features of the Constitution have not been defined by the Supreme Court in the Keshavanand Bharati case. It is necessary to have a clear definition of the basic features of the Constitution.
Increasingly, the higher judiciary is intervening in favour of the private sector, and the employers. There have been a number of judgments by the Supreme Court in the recent period, which overturned verdicts favouring the workers. At the same time, the trend of curtailing democratic rights and collective action by the higher judiciary continue. The Kerala High Court order banning student organisations and political activities from the campuses is one such instance.
The Central Committee is of the firm opinion that there should be judicial accountability and reforms in the judiciary. A National Judicial Commission which comprises not just serving judges must be constituted for appointment and related issues.
BJP’s Disruptive Role
The Central Committee condemned the anti-democratic and disruptive tactics of the BJP in the budget session of parliament. First it raised the Quattrocchi issue to stall parliament and to shout down the railway budget. Using the pretext of the Nandigram incident, it did not allow parliament to function for five successive days. The budget and other important people’s issues could not be discussed properly in parliament.
The BJP-RSS combine have stepped up their communal rhetoric which has led to a spate of communal incidents all over the country in the recent period. The worst violence was seen in Gorakhpur and neighbouring districts of Eastern UP where Adithyanath, the BJP MP, played a leading role. In Madhya Pradesh too there have been a number of communal incidents and attacks on minorities.
The Central Committee called upon all its Party units and other secular forces to unitedly counter such communal provocations. The Central Committee welcomed the UPA government’s decision to provide financial relief to the victims of the Gujarat communal violence of 2002. The government should identify many others who are not officially listed to provide them compensation too.
The Central Committee condemned the continuing US pressures on India to desist from going ahead with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. This blatant interference in India’s sovereign affairs must be rejected and the pipeline project implemented without delay.
The Central Committee strongly deplored the escalating military hostilities in Sri Lanka. The military operations of the Sri Lankan armed forces in the North Eastern region and the recent aerial bombing by the LTTE illustrate the dangers of the widening conflict. Since the resumption of hostilities in April 2006, more than 2 lakh Tamil people have been displaced.
The CPI(M) urges the Sri Lankan government to expedite the preparation of the proposals for a political settlement of the Tamil problem. The report of the all-parties conference on the constitutional and political steps for devolution of powers can be the basis for the political framework for a solution.
The Central Committee welcomed the formation of the interim government headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala which includes the seven party alliance and the Maoists. This is an important step towards implementing the agreement reached between the seven party alliance and the Maoists. The interim government has been constituted along with the date set for the elections of the Constituent Assembly on June 20. This is an important landmark in the democratic transformation in Nepal.
The Central Committee called upon the Party to conduct struggles against price rise and for the proper implementation of the NREGA in the concerned districts. Apart from these two issues, the Party should campaign on the following:
i. Campaign against the activities of the communal forces
ii. Resist US imperialist pressures on India
iii. Demands of the peasantry including implementation of the Farmers Commission recommendations
iv. Implementation of the parliamentary standing committee’s recommendations on the Seed Bill.
v. Changes in SEZ Act and rules to prevent large-scale acquisition of agricultural land, displacement of people and tax concessions to the promoters.
vi. No FDI in retail trade and regulation of organised sector
vii. No entry of foreign universities and setting up of private universities
The Central Committee also decided to immediately conduct a countrywide campaign to counter the disinformation and anti-CPI(M) propaganda on the Nandigram issue. The Left Front government’s implementing land reforms, developing agriculture and on that basis building industry will be taken to the people.