P.B. Communique

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Press Communique

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on February 17 and 18, 2007. It has issued the following statement:

US Provocations Against Iran

The Polit Bureau expressed its serious concern at the confrontation being engineered by the United States against Iran. It condemned the rising chorus of threats directed against Iran by the Bush administration. After the nuclear issue, President Bush is now seeking to blame Iran for the violence in Iraq ignoring the fact that Iraq has been plunged into a cycle of destructive violence because of the American occupation. The United States has undertaken a naval buildup in the Persian Gulf in order to ratchet up the pressure against Iran. The Polit Bureau condemned these aggressive moves by the United States. The Government of India should come out strongly against the efforts to repeat an Iraq style violation of Iran’s sovereignty.

In this connection, the recent visit of the Indian foreign minister to Teheran was a timely and useful step. All efforts should be made to expedite the negotiations between Iran, Pakistan and India for the final agreement on the gas pipeline project.

Counter Communal Activities

The Polit Bureau noted that there has been a spurt in communal violence in different parts of the country in the recent period. There has been communal violence in Bangalore, Gorakhpur, Jabalpur, Mandsaur, Indore and other places. The RSS-BJP combine has been responsible in most instances for creating provocations for the violence. In certain instances Muslim extremist elements have also provoked the violence. It is not accidental that these incidents have taken place at a time when the RSS is observing the birth centenary of Golwalkar and the BJP has stepped up its strident communal rhetoric after the Lucknow session of the party.

The political gameplan for creating a communal polarisation is clear. Such a situation calls for countering the communal forces unitedly by the secular and democratic forces. But unfortunately this is not happening.

Unity of Secular Forces Lacking

In the recent Maharashtra civic polls, the disunity between the UPA partners -– Congress and the NCP -- facilitated the victory of the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the Mumbai Corporation elections and some other places. In Gorakhpur, the Mahant and BJP MP Adityanath and his Hindu Vahini have been on a rampage in some of the Eastern UP districts. The situation required a firm and united rebuff against such forces.

However, in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party, the Congress, the BSP and others were engaged in mutual recriminations thereby letting the BJP off the hook which is the main culprit.

No Use of Article 356 in U.P.

It is in this background that the move for the dismissal of the UP state government and imposition of President’s rule under Article 356 has come up. The Supreme Court has disqualified 13 MLAs who defected from the BSP. This verdict and the status of 24 other MLAs is sought to be made the basis for the imposition of President’s rule. The CPI(M) is opposed to the invocation of Article 356 in Uttar Pradesh. Consequent to the Supreme Court judgment, the question of whether the state government commands a majority in the legislature must be tested on the floor of the house. This is the norm to be observed as laid down by the Supreme Court judgment in the Bommai case.

Article 356 of the Constitution is a draconian clause which can be misused. The CPI(M) has consistently advocated making major modifications in the clause pertaining to dismissal of a state government and imposition of President’s rule. For this a constitutional amendment is required.

Price Rise

The rising rate of inflation and the continuing increase in prices of all essential commodities is badly affecting the lives of the people. The rate of inflation has touched 7 per cent and there is a steep increase in the prices of food grains, dal, vegetables and edible oils. The UPA government’s policies in certain spheres have fuelled the price rise. Further, the government has failed to take effective measures to check price rise. The government has taken the belated step of reducing the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 2 and Re. 1 respectively to revert to the pre-June 2006 level.

The CPI(M) has called for (i) curbing futures trading in foodgrains and other essential commodities; (ii) revision of the tax structure for petroleum products; (iii) ensuring adequate procurement of foodgrains at prices fair to farmers; (iv) strengthening the public distribution system; and (v) ensuring price control of essential drugs.

Anti-Price Rise Agitation on February 27

The Polit Bureau called upon all Party units to conduct an agitation against the price rise on the above demands. On February 27, the Party will conduct picketting and court arrest programmes outside Central or state government offices all over the country.

Stop FDI In Retail Trade

The Polit Bureau strongly reiterated its demand that the government stop opening up retail trade to FDI. The government is allowing FDI in a piecemeal fashion sector by sector. Further, in the name of wholesale and “cash and carry” operations, companies like Wal Mart are tying up with Indian companies to enter the retail trade through the back door. The CPI(M) calls upon all political parties to take a united stand to stop FDI in retail trade and protect the livelihood of millions of small shopkeepers and traders.

Curb Organised Sector in Retail Trade

The Polit Bureau views with concern the entry of big corporate companies in retail trade. The entry of big business in the retail sector will have the same effect of displacing petty shops and traders. Introduction of strict regulations for the entry of corporate sector in retail trade is urgently required. The Polit Bureau decided to prepare a note on regulating the corporate sector in retail trade to be submitted to the government.

Dubious Flow of Funds Into The Stock Market

The National Security Advisor’s statement that stock markets are being utilised by terrorist groups to raise money is a matter of serious concern. The government should take steps to prevent such activities. The first step necessary is to ban investments made by FIIs through the Participatory Notes (PN route). The source of funds through this route are unverifiable for the RBI or for the SEBI. The Tarapore Committee on capital account convertibility had recommended prohibition of fresh investment through the PN route. The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon the UPA government to immediately ban fresh issues of Participatory Notes and phase out the existing PNs within the next few months.

Industrialisation and Land Issue in West Bengal

The Polit Bureau discussed the issue of industrialization and land acquisition in West Bengal. The Polit Bureau endorses the stand taken by the Left Front government on the Tata car project in Singur. The charge that land has been forcibly acquired for the project is false. The Left Front government has taken the necessary steps to ensure that a fair compensation package is devised for those displaced from the land in Singur.

The CPI(M) leadership of West Bengal has informed the Polit Bureau that the SEZ proposals for Bengal will be finalized after the changes in the SEZ Act and Rules are brought about at the Central level. The Left parties are already engaged in seeking changes in the SEZ Act. There is no question of any land being acquired for the SEZ projects, as in Nandigram, against the wishes of the people. The Polit Bureau concluded that the state government should apply the criteria for land conversion based on the land use policy adopted by the state government. Proper evaluation and pricing of land and rehabilitation for all those affected should be worked out. The CPI(M) in this connection wants the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 to be reviewed so that the rights of land holders and those dependent on land for their livelihood are protected and adequate compensation and rehabilitation measures put in place.