P.B. Communique

Monday, May 16, 2005

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on May 14 and 15, 2005. It has issued the following statement:

BJP Boycott

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemned the tactics adopted by the BJP of boycotting the recently concluded session of Parliament. The boycott extended not only to the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha but to all the standing committees. The BJP has displayed a high degree of cynicism and contempt for parliamentary democracy since the constitution of the 14th Lok Sabha. Unable to come to terms with the electoral mandate of May 2004, the BJP has indulged in confrontationist tactics. As a result of its boycott, the Rural
Employment Guarantee Bill could not be taken up in the standing committee and adopted in the current session of Parliament. This has deprived the rural poor of an important measure to sustain their livelihood. That the allies of the BJP were not united in these negative tactics became evident when the TDP decided to attend Parliament after the three-day boycott. The allies of the BJP in the NDA should realise that the people have disapproved of this one year of endless boycotts.

BJP Disarray

The aggressive posture of the BJP in Parliament could not cover-up the disarray within the party leadership and the dissatisfaction expressed by the RSS about its political front. The Gujarat pogroms continue to haunt the BJP. Sundar Singh Bhandari, former Governor of Gujarat and a senior BJP and RSS leader, has gone on record criticising the role of the Modi government and the Centre when the violence broke out. He has underlined the need for a probe into why the administration failed to curb the spreading violence.
In Gujarat, the state government continues to cover-up for those guilty of perpetrating horrific crimes. The diary of a senior police official shows how systematic efforts were made to aid and abet those directing the attacks. 61,000 people remain displaced even three years after the riots. Six serious cases before the Supreme Court should be referred to the CBI. The government should take immediate steps in this regard. The CBI should expedite the enquiry into the serious cases of mass killings. The Central government should take steps to expedite the investigations and take up with the Supreme Court the need to process the cases before it speedily.

The Polit Bureau noted the report sent by its Rajasthan Committee on the creation of communal tension and organised violence by the sangh parivar against the minority community in Bhilwara in Rajasthan and demanded immediate action against the culprits.

Investigate Centaur Hotel Deal

The Comptroller and Auditor General report on the sale of Centaur Hotels has clearly brought out the gross irregularities and favours shown to certain parties when the sale of the two hotels were undertaken. The CPI(M) group in Parliament has been relentlessly demanding a full probe into this privatisation deal. The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) welcomes the decision of the Central government to order an enquiry into the sales. There is another scandalous deal in the sale of the ITDC hotel at Kovalam, Kerala which involved the sale of 65 acres of land which includes a state-owned guest house and other properties. Action must be taken on this matter too. It is important that the responsibility for these fraudulent deals are pinpointed and action taken so that, in future, such racketeering in the sale of public assets does not take place.

On Policy Issues

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) reiterated its opposition to the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act Bill. The Bill seeks to do away with the 10 per cent voting rights cap for shareholders in private Indian banks. This is being done to facilitate the take over of the Indian private banks by foreign banks who can acquire upto 74 per cent share. There is no reason why the Central government should facilitate the take over of Indian private banks by foreign banks through such a measure.

The Polit Bureau reiterated its opposition to the privatisation of pension funds which will be facilitated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill.

The Polit Bureau welcomed the passing of the Right to Information Act in the recent session of Parliament. The Act should help citizens get information about the way public funds are being spent and to make public servants and officials more accountable. It wanted the government to introduce the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill in Parliament without delay.
The Polit Bureau noted that due to the intervention of the Left Parties, the Special Economic Zone Bill, which has been passed, has deleted those clauses which exempt labour laws from being applicable to these zones.

Farmer’s Problems

Farmers are suffering from heavy loss due to the steep fall in prices of chillies, mustard, tea and other commodities. The Central government should immediately step in to set minimum support price and ensure procurement.

No Hike in Petroleum Prices

The CPI(M) has conveyed to the government its opposition to the proposed hike in prices of petroleum products. In the Union budget, the excise duty proposals have led to an increase of Rs. 1.70 per litre for petrol and Rs. 1.15 for diesel. This despite the claim of the Finance Minister that excise duty proposals are revenue neutral. The world prices being high, the government wants to make an increase taking into account both the excise duty burden and the global prices. The CPI(M) has submitted a note to the Minister for Petroleum explaining how to meet this situation and prevent the burden being passed on to the consumer to the maximum extent. This requires (a) change in the excise duty so that it does not lead to retail price hike (b) the 50 paise cess per litre on petrol and diesel for road construction is an unnecessary burden over and above the current cess of Rs. 1.50 per litre. This should be cancelled. (c) The import parity in pricing of petroleum products gives undue advantage to private refineries and this should be done away with (d) to meet the fluctuations in the international prices there should be a price stabilization fund. The fund collected through cess on indigenous crude amounting to Rs. 5,400 crores per annum can be used for this purpose.

Violence Against Women

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemned the rising incidents of violence against women and girl children. The gang rape of a university student in Delhi, the custodial rape of a young woman in a police chowki in Mumbai, the spate of sexual assaults against minor girls are a matter of deep concern and indicate a serious degeneration of social attitudes towards women. Very often, the police compound the problem by refusing to take such crimes seriously. It is necessary to take stringent action against the culprits and against police officials who did not take the necessary steps. A big campaign is required by political parties, social, and mass organisations against crimes against women and for implementation of their duties by Governments and law enforcement agencies to prevent such crimes. The CPI(M) calls upon its units to initiate such campaigns.

The Polit Bureau condemned the gruesome attack on a women anganwadi supervisor in Madhya Pradesh whose hands were cut off for her campaign against child marriage. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is not concerned about the situation as it is the repository of reactionary and outmoded social values. Its Ministers and MLAs have patronised child marriages and instead of making the administration accountable for such violations of children’s rights, it has held the anganwadis responsible through an objectionable circular. While demanding the withdrawal of the circular the Polit Bureau demands firm action against those who perpetrated this atrocity.

Foreign Policy

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) welcomed the outcome of the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, to India. Both the countries have declared that they are upgrading relations to the status of “strategic and cooperative partnership”. An agreement on the political parameters and guiding principles for the settlement of the India-China border question was adopted. The eleven agreements signed during the visit augurs well for improving all-round ties with China.

The visit of Pakistan President Musharraf and the joint statement issued after talks with the Indian Prime Minister has added momentum to improving relations between the two countries and taking forward the bilateral dialogue. The people to people contacts and confidence building measures have met with a good response from the people of both sides.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bandung conference was also an occasion where India got the opportunity to reaffirm its ties with African and Asian countries. The visit of Dr. Manmohan Singh to participate in the observance of the 60th anniversary of the victory over fascism in Moscow has further strengthened the close ties with Russia.

The United States is trying to draw India closer through the Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership (NSSP). It is holding out the promise of cooperation in the sphere of civilian nuclear energy and has offered to sell F-16 and F-18 fighter planes. The UPA government must treat these offers with caution to see whether they conform to national interests and requirements. The Polit Bureau reiterated its opposition to India joining the joint Missile Defence System proposed by the United States.

On Supply of Arms to Nepal

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) criticised the UPA government for reversing its decision to suspend the military supplies to the Nepalese armed forces. The King of Nepal has suppressed democracy and has instituted an authoritarian regime. The release of some political leaders and activists has not led to any relaxation on the curbs on political activities. As far as large sections of Nepalese people are concerned, the King does not have any legitimacy. The UPA government should not be seen to be siding with the King against the democratic and popular forces.