The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi from December 20 to 22, 2007. It has issued the following statement:
Repair Ties With Iran
The National Intelligence Estimate made public in the United States in early December has stated that Iran has stopped its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 and that it has not restarted the programme as of mid-2007. This assessment made by the 16 intelligence organisations of the United States collectively has knocked the bottom out of the case made by the Bush administration against Iran on the nuclear issue. Since 2005, the United States has been targetting Iran and has got Iran’s nuclear programme referred to the Security Council. Two rounds of sanctions were imposed on Iran by the Security Council and the United States has also unilaterally imposed sanctions penalising Iranian banks and other institutions. The Government of India had gone along with the US position and voted twice against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency. Under pressure of the US sanctions, India has been going slow on the Iran gas pipeline project. The State Bank of India was not issuing Letters of Credit to Iranian companies.
With the Bush administration’s fabricated stand being exposed, it is incumbent upon the UPA government to review its shortsighted and harmful policy towards Iran. The CPI(M) has consistently maintained that India should act on the basis of its long-term interests and its need for energy security. The UPA government has to tell the country what steps it is taking to ensure that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project becomes a reality. Clear instructions should go out to banking sector and oil companies and other business entities that doing business with Iran has the full backing of the government. This is the least that should be done to restore confidence that India adheres to an independent foreign policy.
Food Policy and PDS
The decision of the Government to go in for further imports of wheat to ensure a buffer stock points to the urgent need for a reversal of current policies concerning foodgrain procurement and the PDS. Already the prices of imported wheat has skyrocketed and is 80 per cent higher than last year. It has shot up from 326 dollars a tonne in June, to 389 dollars a tonne in August to 400 dollars a tonne in November. This in turn is more than double the price paid to the Indian farmer. Nor has it helped to bring any substantial reduction in prices in the open market. At the same time in spite of expensive imported wheat, the Government has continued its severe cuts in allocations to the public distribution system both for rice and wheat. This has virtually taken the APL cardholders out of the PDS. In other words all concerned sections, the farmer, the ration cardholder, the consumer, have been negatively affected. Government expenditure on imported foodgrain has hugely increased.
The only beneficiaries are private trade mainly MNCs, corporates and agri-businesses who have had windfall profits on both counts. Firstly by the encouragement offered by Government to purchase foodgrains from Indian farmers at prices only slightly higher than the Government’s Minimum Support Price but able to make profits from its sale in the open market or through hoarding. Secondly by providing imported wheat at high prices. The CPI(M) demands that the Government reverse these policies. Procurement must be ensured by official agencies giving farmers a fair return. In this context the delay in announcing a fair price for rice procurement is unfortunate. The CPI(M) demands at least 1000 rupees a tonne for rice.
At the same time the cuts in APL allocations must be reversed. The calculations of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector that around 83 crore people live with less than twenty rupees a day when compared to 6 crore BPL family card holders, shows that two-thirds of these sections who require food subsidy given their low levels of income are excluded from BPL cards. Instead of universalizing the system of PDS, Government is further cutting APL allocations. We strongly condemn this and demand universalisation of PDS and as a first step restoration of APL allocations.
The prices of food items and essential commodities continue to rise. This has become the biggest burden on the people. The CPI(M) demands that Essential Commodities Act be tightened and stringent steps taken against hoarding and speculation in essential commodities. The futures trading should be prohibited not only for wheat and rice but also for other essential commodities.
The Central Committee urges the Government to bring forward the promised social legislations in the forthcoming budget session. The first should be the introduction of the Women’s Reservation Bill in its present form.
The Standing Committee recommendations for redrafting of the legislation for unorganized sector workers according to the recommendations of the Arjun Sengupta Commission should also be implemented and passed in the next session of Parliament.
Assam Adivasi Agitation
The Central Committee condemned the violence, which erupted during the rally organised by the adivasi organisation in Guwahati and the shameful episode of the stripping of a young girl and her public humiliation. The Central Committee demands that the Assam state Government and the Central Government take immediate steps to grant Schedule Tribe status for the tea garden adivasis and five other tribal communities.
Sub-Plan for Minorities
The Central Committee expressed its disappointment that the Eleventh Five Year Plan finalised in the National Development Council meeting has not provided for a sub-plan for the minorities. The plan has stopped short by talking of separate earmarking of fiscal and financial targets for the minority communities. Even this provision has been attacked by the BJP and the Gujarat Chief Minister as “communal budgeting”. This displays the communal mindset of the BJP, which seeks to deprive some of the most disadvantaged sections in our society from getting fair share in development.
The Central Committee heard a report of the discussions on the Indo-US nuclear deal, which took place in the UPA-Left Committee. It endorsed the stand taken that after the talks with the IAEA for a safeguards agreement, the outcome will be placed before the UPA-Left Committee for its consideration before proceeding further with the agreement.
The Central Committee heard a report on the current situation in Nandigram. With the return of people from all sides to their homes, normalcy is returning to the block which was under the occupation of the forces behind the so-called Bhoomi Uched Prathirodh Samiti for eleven months. The state administration is taking steps to provide relief and rehabilitation. Mini kits are being provided to the farmers for the upcoming Rabi season.
The false campaign by a section of the media and anti-communist political forces about murder, rape and arson in Nandigram is designed to defame the CPI(M). An illustration of this smear campaign is the spate of media reports attributed to the CBI about the incidents of March 14. What is being cited are not the CBI’s conclusion after investigations but the complaints lodged and the deposition of persons in this connection. The CBI has yet to submit its report to the High Court for which it has asked for two months time.
It is unfortunate that the remains of five persons killed have been dug up to concoct charges against the CPI(M). The fact is that all the five persons whose names have been given, are actually supporters of the Party who died in a bomb blast in a refugee camp in October. Cases were lodged with the police on the deaths, postmortems conducted of the bodies and then they were cremated. Such instances are being twisted to malign the Party.
Since the CPI(M) is in the forefront of opposition to a strategic alliance with the United States and firmly against neo-liberal policies which harm the interests of the working people, vested interests are targetting the Party. The Central Committee called upon all its Party units to firmly counter this vilification campaign.
Draft Political Resolution
The Central Committee discussed the Draft Political Resolution to be presented to the 19th Congress of the Party to be held in March next year. After intensive discussions, the Central Committee unanimously adopted the draft of the resolution. The draft resolution will be released in mid-January, so that as per the constitutional provision it can be discussed at all levels in the Party, two months before the Party Congress.