C.C. Communique

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Press Communique

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on March 3 and 4, 2003. It has issued the following statement:

Oppose War On Iraq

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) expressed its strong opposition to the feverish war preparations being made by the United States to launch a military attack and occupy Iraq. Such an act of blatant aggression is against world public opinion which has been dramatically manifested through huge anti-war mobilisations around the world.

The United States is currently engaged in bullying and pressurising members of the Security Council to get a second resolution adopted to authorise its illegal war. The majority in the Council is against the war. Three permanent members of the Security Council -- France, Russia and China -- have reiterated their opposition to war and for the UN inspectors to continue their work in Iraq. The Iraqi cooperation with the weapons inspectors has led to the process of destruction of its Al Samoud short-range missiles.

Despite the strong possibility of failure to get Security Council backing, Bush is determined to go ahead with the war. Bush and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, want nothing less than the removal of Saddam Hussein and abject surrender by Iraq. The Security Council has not succumbed to the US pressures; the United Nations cannot become party to aggression against a member country and violation of its national sovereignty.

The BJP-led government has refused to take a firm and categorical position in opposition to the US war efforts. Neither in Parliament, nor at the NAM Summit in Malaysia has the Vajpayee government taken a firm stand. As the Prime Minister himself has said, his government has adopted a "middle path", which is an euphemism for tacit connivance with America's war plans.

The Central Committee called for a powerful anti-war mobilisation all over the country. All Party units must take up this task as a priority and with all other Left and democratic forces, build a powerful protest movement against America's aggression and demand that the Indian government take political and diplomatic measures to oppose the war.

National Situation

After the Gujarat elections, the BJP-RSS combine has aggressively sought to push the communal Hindutva agenda. The most glaring illustration of this stance is the VHP's revival of the Ram temple agitation and the Central government's response. The Centre's move to get the Supreme Court to vacate its stay order on the status of the acquired land at Ayodhya is a partisan step to meet the VHP's illegal demands. There can be no alteration of the status of the land acquired by the Central government around the site where the Babri Masjid stood, till a final decision is arrived at through the judicial process.

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) strongly condemned the planned efforts to rake up issues which can create communal tensions. The "bhojshala" issue at Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, the mass distribution of trishuls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and the mischievous attempts to create communal tensions in various centres in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan are all part of the design to intimidate the minorities and to create a communal divide. Thus, the BJP was hoping to cash in on the Gujarat election results and to repeat "Gujarat" in other parts of the country.

The results of the Himachal Pradesh elections have shown that substantial sections of people do not subscribe to this divisive agenda. Despite all the communal issues being raised in the election campaign by the BJP leadership, the people of the state have voted out the Dhumal government for its misrule and corruption.

But the communal campaign will continue, keeping in mind the forthcoming elections to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Delhi assemblies later this year. The Central Committee called upon all its Party units and other Left and democratic forces to counter this communal campaign and the efforts to disturb communal harmony.

Compromising Attitude of the Congress

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) sharply criticised the compromising stand and vacillations of the Congress in the face of the communal offensive. A striking example of this tendency to compromise on communal issues is seen in the stance of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh. He wrote a letter to the Prime Minister demanding a national legislation against cow slaughter and a ban on beef exports. At his instance, the Madhya Pradesh Congress has taken up a campaign on these issues. Neither has the Chief Minister taken a firm stand on the "bhojshala" issue. His recommendation to the Central government has led the latter to announce concessions to the RSS-led agitation to allow puja to be conducted inside the monument. Such opportunism and efforts to out-maneouvre the BJP will only further legitimise its communal agenda. It is for the Congress leadership to reverse this trend, which can cost the country heavily.

Economic Situation

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) expressed its deep concern at the stagnant economic situation with the GDP growth having come down to 4.4 per cent in the current fiscal year. The severe drought in 2002 has affected agricultural production badly with a negative growth of 3.1 per cent being registered. With an increase in world oil prices, the huge import bill burden will upset the balance of payments position.

It is in such a situation that the conditions and life of the ordinary people is deteriorating. The drought-affected areas have seen hunger and malnutrition. The after-effects of the drought continues to be serious in many states where the peasantry have lost their crops or are not been able to sow them. The inadequate relief has hardly given any succour to the farmers. The collapse of the public distribution system makes a mockery of the huge foodgrains stocks. The Tenth Plan document has admitted that employment potential has shrunk.

It is in this background that the Union budget has come out with proposals which will further aggravate the situation and worsen the living conditions of the people. Like the previous budgets, it is explicitly pro-rich and anti-poor, providing major fiscal concession to big business and the rich, and implying further increases in living costs of workers and peasants. It does nothing to address the two most crucial problems of the Indian economy today, that is the crisis in agriculture and the collapse in employment.

It has nothing to offer to the peasantry reeling under the impact of price-crashes; on the contrary it actually raises the price of fertilizers at the very time when output prices have crashed. The employment scenario is likely to get even worse as a result of the dereservation of SSI items, and the whole array of cuts in Customs Duties. The reduction in peak customs duty from 30 per cent to 25 per cent would adversely affect small industry that is already facing the problem of import competition. The cut in the interest rate of small savings, including the provident fund rate, will affect ordinary people and pensioners.

The 50 paise cess on diesel will have a cascading effect on all costs and prices, including in the agricultural sector. In the name of controlling adulteration, an additional excise duty of Rs. 1.50 per litre has been imposed on light diesel oil, which will further hit the production conditions of cultivators, and the living standards of all ordinary people.

The Central Committee called upon all its Party units to immediately take up the problems of various sections of the people due to the budget proposals and launch protest actions demanding reversal of such provisions.

On Use Of Water Resources

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) discussed the government's proposal for the inter-linking of river waters on a countrywide scale. The shortage of water for agricultural purposes, the problem of drought and floods and the acute scarcity of drinking water are all issues which must be tackled on a priority basis. In this context, it is necessary to have a comprehensive and scientific study on how to tackle the problem.

The Central Committee calls for the setting up of a multi-disciplinary expert committee to go into the whole question and come up with considered proposals which should then be taken up for discussion and implementation.

Muthanga Attack

The Central Committee condemned the police firing and repression on adivasis in Wynad district in Kerala. The UDF government has refused to hold a judicial enquiry into the incident. The Antony government has failed to provide land to the adivasis who are landless. The Central Committee endorsed the demand for a judicial enquiry raised by the LDF and other organisations.

Conduct Coordinated Movements

The Central Committee welcomed the decision taken at the February 26 march to Parliament of the national trade unions to conduct a one-day general strike during the current session of Parliament. It called upon all mass organisations to conduct their own independent campaigns and coordinate their movements with this one-day strike call so that a powerful countrywide protest can be registered.

The Central Committee of the CPI(M) decided that the Party should conduct its own campaign and struggles on four major questions in the coming period.

· The first issue is the imminent threat of war on Iraq. In the coming few weeks, before America launches its attack, all Party units should take the initiative to mobilise all political forces and sections of the people, so that a powerful anti-war movement is developed throughout the country.

· The Party will conduct a widespread campaign against the machinations of the RSS and its front organisations and the BJP's connivance with them in stoking up communal tensions and campaign for defence of secular values and maintaining communal harmony.

· All Party units should organise protests against the attacks on the livelihood of the people through the budget proposal, such as the hike in price of diesel and fertilisers, the threat to small scale industries and employment due to cuts in customs duties and the ongoing privatisation drive.
· A campaign should be conducted for the universalisation of the public distribution system and till then, ensuring the distribution of BPL cards and providing adequate quantity of foodgrains at cheap rates for the rural and urban poor.