The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on 29 and 30 May, 2008. It has issued the following statement:
On Price Rise and Hike in Petroleum Product Prices
The Central Committee noted with deep concern the steady rise in prices and inflation. The wholesale price index has risen by 8.1 per cent. This figure does not really capture the actual rate of inflation. The price rise of essential commodities, particularly of food items, is becoming unbearable for the common people.
It is in this context that the proposed hike in petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices have to be viewed. Such a hike will have a cascading effect on price rise and heap further burdens on the people.
The CPI(M) and the Left parties have been suggesting a package of measures which would help to meet the steep increase in the international oil prices. These measures consist of: a) cut in import duty from five to zero per cent, b) reduction in excise duties and on petrol and diesel, c) setting up of a price stabilisation fund with the oil cess contribution, d) taxing the windfall profits being made by private oil companies and refineries, and e) an end to the import parity pricing system. It is unfortunate that the UPA government has not taken seriously these measures.
Alongwith the Central government’s reduction of duties, the state governments should also institute cuts in sales tax and duties on petroleum products to relieve the burden on the people.
The UPA government cannot pamper the private oil companies while the public sector oil marketing companies are suffering.
The Central Committee expressed its strong opposition to any hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas. The Central Committee authorized the Polit Bureau to call for a countrywide protest movement in concert with the Left and secular opposition parties, if the government announces a price increase.
Steps to Curb Price Rise
The Central Committee expressed its strong dissatisfaction at the manner in which the UPA government has ignored the measures suggested by the Left parties to curb the price rise of essential commodities. The five steps suggested were: universalisation of the public distribution system and restoration of the cut in foodgrain allocation to the states under the PDS; curb on procurement of foodgrains from farmers by private companies and traders; ban on futures trading in essential commodities; cut in import duties and excise duties on oil and stringent action against hoarding.
The Central Committee call upon all its Party units to step up the anti-price rise agitation by taking up the specific local issues connected with the price rise and launching continuous struggles on such issues.
Farm Loan Waiver
The Central Committee considers the additional steps announced for farmers’ debt waiver inadequate and will not help to provide substantial debt relief. The steps taken to write off 25 per cent of the dues or Rs. 20,000 whichever is higher for farmers having above two hectors in drought-prone districts is totally insufficient. Neither has the cutoff date of March 2007 being extended for claiming debt relief. The Central Committee demanded that full debt relief to be given to the farmers of dry land areas and raise the land holding limit to cover all small and medium farmers. The cut-off limit for the debt relief should be extended to February 2008.
Karnataka Election Results
The BJP achieved majority by winning 110 of the 224 seats. It has been able to form a government on its own in the state for the first time. This is a serious development when viewed in the background of the growth of the Hindutva communal forces over the last two decades in Karnataka. This growth was marked by continuous communal incidents and the targeting of the minorities. The secular forces must draw proper lessons from this development.
The immediate advantage gained by the BJP was solely due to the opportunist and unprincipled role of the Janata Dal (S). The formation of the coalition government with the JD(S) helped the BJP to come into government for the first time getting key portfolios. It utilised this effectively. The JD(S) has been marginalized in these elections due to its unprincipled compromise. The BJP utilised the JD(S) withdrawal of support as an act of “betrayal”. The Congress party got progressively weakened. It had a divided leadership. The impact of the UPA government’s policies has been negative with price rise and the agrarian crisis. A discredited Congress could not cash in on the collapse of the BJP-JD(S) coalition.
Rajasthan: Brutal Repression
The Central Committee strongly condemned the brutal and inhuman repression unleashed on the Gujjar agitation in the state. This agitation was sparked off by the Chief Minister’s assurance to provide Scheduled Caste status to the community during the Assembly elections. Last year too, the agitation was sought to be suppressed with more than a score of people killed. This time, it is shocking that two days of police firings have led to the death of 41 persons. The BJP government has failed to tackle the issue by negotiations and a political settlement.
The Vasundhara Raje government has the notorious record of having conducted more than 50 police firings in which around 80 people have been killed in its four and a half year rule. After the latest massacres, the Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje should own up the responsibility and resign from the post of Chief Ministership.
Situation in Assam
The Central Committee noted with concern the continuing activities of extremist forces in Karbi Anglong and the North Cachar Hill districts which has led to violence and loss of lives. Extremist activities are occurring in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District too. The Assam state government is failing to maintain peace and tranquillity. These are areas which have suffered from long years of neglect. It is essential that immediate attention is paid for the development of these areas while taking steps to check the violence and maintain peace.
Women’s Reservation Bill
The Central Committee welcomed the introduction of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha. All efforts should be made to arrive at a common understanding so that the Bill can be enacted into law.
Closure of Vaccine Institutes
The CPI(M) strongly opposes the suspension of licenses of the three main vaccine producing units in the public sector, viz., BCG unit in Chennai, Pastuer Institute, Coonoor and Central Research Institute, Kasauli. Between them, these PSUs produce and supply the bulk of the vaccines for the important universal immunization programme. Their closure is a blow to self-reliance and paves the way for big private pharma companies. The Health Ministry must restore their licences with immediate effect and upgrade facilities.
West Bengal Panchayat Elections
The Central Committee greeted the people of West Bengal for supporting the Left Front in the three-tier panchayat elections. The Left Front has won 13 of the 17 zilla parishads and a majority of the panchayat samitis and gram panchayats. A noteable fact is that the Left Front has polled 54 per cent of the votes in the three-tier elections in the face of a complete gang-up of all the anti-CPI(M) forces. The Trinamul Congress- Congress- BJP-SUCI and other communal organisations came together particularly in the panchayat samiti and gram panchayat levels to fight the CPI(M) and the Left Front.
There have been some setbacks for the CPI(M) and the Left Front in certain districts and areas. The West Bengal state committee will be undertaking a detailed examination of the results and making a review. The apprehensions about land acquisition which has led to loss of support in some areas must be removed. The plan for industrialization must take this into account. Proper lessons must be drawn from the reversal suffered in certain areas. The disunity in the Left Front should be overcome and Left unity strengthened. The Central Committee is confident that remedial policy steps and organisational measures will be undertaken.
20th August Strike
The Central Committee extended its full support to the call given by the Central Trade Unions for a one-day general strike on the demands of the workers and employees.
The Central Committee finalized the work division of the Polit Bureau members and Central Committee members and the constitution of sub-committees.
The Central Committee elected a seven-member secretariat headed by the General Secretary. The other members are: Hari Singh Kang, Hannan Mollah, V. Srinivasa Rao, Nilotpal Basu, A. Vijayaraghavan and Jogendra Sharma. The last two are new members.
The Central Committee co-opted Amra Ram, member of the Rajasthan state secretariat and MLA to the Central Committee in the vacant seat in the Central Committee.
The Central Committee decided to have the Secretary of the Chattisgarh state committee, M. K. Nandi and the Secretary of the Uttarakhand state committee, Vijai Rawat, as invitees to the Central Committee.