The Left Parties, namely the CPI, the CPI(M), the Forward Bloc and the RSP call upon you to join the massive rally in Ram Lila maidan Delhi on March 12 to raise your voice against the Central Government’s polices which are looting the budgets of the poor through price rise. The rally is for the demand for cheap rations to all, the right to work and jobs, and land for the landless. The rally is also to express strong condemnation of the Trinamool-Maoist violence against Left party activists in Bengal.
Against Price Rise and for Cheap Rations
People throughout the country and particularly women are the victims of the unprecedented rise in the prices of food items essential for our daily lives. Rice, atta, dal, sugar, edible oil, milk, vegetables everything we need to survive has now become too expensive to buy. The Government itself admits that the prices of food items have risen by 20 per cent compared to last year but in fact some items like sugar and some types of dals have increased by 100 per cent and more. The Congress led UPA Government’s policies are responsible. The Congress came into power on the slogan of aam aadmi but the Government it leads has followed policies which have only helped the khaas aadmi.
For example:
It paid 12 to 14 rupees per kilo to big traders for imported wheat but in the same year gave only 9.50 rupees to Indian farmers.
In spite of expensive imports it still cut wheat supplies to the ration shops.
The price of wheat remained high in the open market.
Who benefited? Neither the farmer nor the consumer—only big companies.
In sugar it is the same story
Sugarcane farmers who produced a bumper crop two years ago were punished by not giving them adequate prices for their produce. Many burnt their crops in the field. Government should have ensured a buffer stock of sugar at that time. Instead Government not only allowed big sugar companies to export the sugar but paid them incentives to do so. The following year farmers did not sow sugarcane but since there was no buffer stock it resulted in a shortage. Then the Government allowed the big companies to import sugar and that also without any taxes.
Who benefited? Big sugar companies have made huge profits. 33 companies increased their profits from 30 crores to over 900 crores in just one year, that is by 2900 per cent! Farmers suffered and the consumer had to pay 40 rupees a kilo for sugar.
Another policy of the Government which has led to price rise is the permission granted to speculative capital in future trading in food items. Why should profiteering be allowed in essential food items? The earlier ban on future trade in wheat was also removed by the Central Government. In this sphere also huge profits have been made by private companies. We demand a ban on all future trading in food items.
The Central Government has virtually destroyed the public distribution system by depriving lakhs of people ration cards. The bogus definition of poverty line of just 11 rupees a day for an adult in rural India has meant that large numbers of the poor are denied BPL cards and all the rest of the poor are termed as above poverty line. Is a man or a woman who earns 15 rupees day not poor? Why are they deprived of BPL cards? This is a cruel instrument to divide the poor and deny them their rights. In the last five years 75 per cent of rice and wheat meant for the rationing system in different States has been cut. Shamefully today when the Government has a big buffer stock of around 20 million tonnes instead of restoring the cut allocations at the subsidised, it is offering the States some amount of foodgrains at double the price. This is the same Government which gives 4 lakh crore rupees as tax concessions to the rich but when it comes to giving cheap rations to the working people it says it has no money.
We demand that all sections of the unorganized workers which come to almost 80 per cent of the adult working population should be given BPL cards. We demand at least 35 kilos of foodgrains to each family at two rupees a kilo through the immediate enactment of a law.
Jobs for All
After a big struggle by Left parties the earlier UPA Government enacted a law for guaranteed employment for 100 days in rural India. But only one person in a family can get work under this law. Why should this be so? Does not every adult who can work have a right to be included in the law? Those who get work under NREGA are not guaranteed a minimum wage. Piece rate wages are linked to impossibly high productivity norms as a result of which in large parts of the country workers do not get the full wage. We demand an expansion in the work guarantee and payment of minimum wages. At the same time what crime have the urban people committed that they should be deprived of such a right? The urban areas have been totally left out. Crores of young men and women are looking for work. It is essential that the Government should enact a law to ensure employment guarantee in urban areas.
Till now the Government itself has been the biggest employer but as part of its liberalization economic polices the Central Government has placed a virtual ban on recruitment. This has badly affected employment and especially the SC and ST youth since the number of jobs available for them has been cut down. Minority communities are also deprived of jobs and the central Government has made no move to ensure any action to give them jobs. Even disabled citizens who have a right to 3 per cent of reservations in identified jobs are being denied their rights.
Government figures show that in the total organized sector employment which was 267.33 lakhs in 1991 remained at 269.93 lakhs in 2006—an increase of only 2.6 lakh jobs in 15 years! This is the economic policy of successive pro-capitalist Governments.
At the same time the current recession has worsened the situation for the working class. Leave alone getting jobs, they have lost jobs. In 2008-2009 11 lakh workers lost their jobs and in 2009-2010 13 lakh workers lost their jobs. But what did the central Government do? It gave money to help the companies but did not put any conditions to ensure that the workers jobs were saved. We demand protection fore the workers, we demand that the Government lift the ban on recruitment in Government jobs; we demand that the backlog in SC/St vacancies and vacancies for disabled be filled; we demand that socially and backward communities including minorities be given employment guarantees.
Land reforms and Land pattas to the landless and homeless
The vast numbers of our people live in the villages and among them are the landless agricultural workers and those without even homestead land. The importance of land reform in such a situation needs to be emphasized. How can India develop if the large masses of our rural people have no assets and very low purchasing power? Land reform and distribution of surplus land to the landless will help not only those who get the land but also by increasing their earnings increase demand for other goods thus leading to an expansion of the domestic market and have a positive impact on expansion of production and job creation. But instead of stressing on giving land to the landless the successive Governments at the Centre are practicing policies in reverse—allowing corporate companies to take over land or to lease land out from small farmers. Huge tracts of so-called wastelands are being handed over to corporates by different Governments.
At the national level according to one estimate over 500 lakh acres is surplus land in India. But how much has been taken over? Just 73 lakh acres. How much has been distributed? Only 53 lakh acres. That is after 62 years of India’s independence just 10.6 per cent of surplus land has been distributed to the landless. This is a shameful record. In contrast in West Bengal for example the Left front Government which has only 3 per cent of the agricultural land in the whole country had taken over land to the extent of 13 lakh acres and ensured its distribution to the landless which is 20 per cent of all land distributed in the country. Even today the West Bengal Government holds the best record in the country on land distribution. We demand that the Central Government change its agricultural policies with its emphasis on corporatisation of land and agroiculture and frame policies for takeover and distribute surplus land as well as develop wasteland and distribute it to the landless.
Millions of people in India are without homes. The Indira Awaas Yojana is highly inadequate. What is required is a proper policy to ensure homestead land and houses as for example in Kerala where successive LDF Governments have ensured homestead land with a small plot where families can grow their own vegetables and other requirements.
At the same time the Central Government continues to use the draconian and outdated 1894 Land Acquisition Act to takeover land of the peasantry coercively. The two Bills for amendments and relief and rehabilitation for landlosers is still not brought before parliament. We demand that the 1894 Act be scrapped that displacement is minimized and that laws are enacted to ensure full compensation, profit share and livelihood security to those affected.
In Solidarity with West Bengal
Today West Bengal which is the heart of the Left and progressive movement in India is under severe attack by the reactionary forces. In blatant violation of minimum democratic norms, these forces are using violence to eliminate Left cadre and sympathizers, to attack and burn their houses and even women and children are not spared. Since the Lok Sabha elections over of 168 Left Front leaders, workers and supporters have been brutally killed. Leading the attack is the Trinamool Congress in alliance with the Maoists. It is indeed an unprecedented development in Indian politics that whereas the prime Minister states that the armed attacks and terror tactics of the Maoists are the greatest threat to internal security, a Cabinet Minister, leader of the Trinamool Congress gives open certificates to the Maoists and protects them demanding the withdrawal of the joint central State operations in Bengal. At the same time the Trinamool Congress and the alliance of parties and forces from the extreme right to the extreme left led by it have a one-point programme to destabilize Bengal and oust the Left front Government through these tactics.
The attacks in West Bengal on Left cadre by a gang-up of anti-Left forces is a concern not only of the people of West Bengal but of all democratic minded citizens throughout the country. We express our solidarity with the fighting people of West Bengal against the Trinamool-Maoists violence and the struggle for defence of democracy.
                                    Communist Party of India (Marxist)