The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) held its meeting in Kolkata from January 17 to 19, 2013. It has issued the following statement:
The Central Committee expressed its deep concern at the continuing armed conflict in Syria. For the last one and a half years, a concerted effort is being made to effect a regime change in Syria with rebel groups getting arms and supplies from outside. The threat of the Islamist forces dominating the rebel forces is growing. The United States, the NATO and the Gulf states are fuelling a civil war which has already led to the death of 60,000 people and more than half a million refugees who have fled to the neighbouring countries. The solution to the conflict can only be decided by the Syrian people free from external intervention.
The Central Committee condemned the efforts of the United States and the NATO powers to impose their will by backing the armed rebels. The United Nations and the countries of the region should work for a politically negotiated settlement by all concerned forces in Syria.
New Burdens on the People
The Central Committee discussed the new burdens imposed on the people by the UPA government. The price rise of essential commodities continues to be relentless. The Consumer Price Index inflation rate has gone up from 9.5 per cent in October 2012 to 10.56 per cent in December 2012. There is no respite in the price rise of wheat, rice, pulses and other food items.
It is at this juncture that the UPA government has announced steps to deregulate the price of diesel. This will lead to the continuous rise in the price of diesel which will affect transportation and fuel inflation. Farmers will be badly hit. Such deregulation will allow oil companies to raise prices to match international levels. These are much higher than domestic cost of production permitting the oil companies to reap windfall profits at the expense of imposing unprecedented burdens on the people.
Even before the railway budget has been presented, the UPA government has increased the railway passenger fares across the board. The government has announced a National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy that will effectively nullify the drug pricing control regime and allow the MNC and big pharmaceutical companies to continue to reap big profits. The Rangarajan committee’s recommendation for the total decontrol of the sugar industry, if implemented, is going to adversely affect the sugarcane farmers and have a cascading effect on the price of sugar for the PDS beneficiaries.
The Central Committee called upon its Party units to intensify the struggles against price-rise and the anti-people policies of the UPA government.
Cash Transfer Scheme
The Central Committee strongly opposes the move to extend the Cash Transfer Scheme to replace subsidized foodgrains, fertilizers, cooking gas and kerosene. In a period of high inflation, cash transfer to replace subsidized goods is meant to actually cut subsidies since the cash to be transferred will not cover the increased cost of the same amount of subsidized foodgrains or fertilizers. Cash transfer in place of foodgrains would end up dismantling the public distribution system. It will lead to increasing malnutrition and hunger in the country. It is illegal for the UPA government to link the various welfare schemes including MNREGA to the Aadhar-UID scheme. The Bill proposed for the UID has not been passed by parliament. In fact the Standing Committee has rejected the Bill and called for its redrafting.
Violence Against Women
The Central Committee expressed its indignation and condemnation of the alarming increase of sexual assaults on women. The horrific gangrape and murder of a 23 year old paramedical student in Delhi brought this widespread violence to the fore. The protests which have arisen triggered by this tragic incident has also raised issues of the subordinate status of women, the deep-rooted patriarchal attitude towards women and girls and the denial of their rights as equal citizens.
The CPI(M) has already submitted a memorandum to the Verma Committee suggesting various measures including life imprisonment for cases of rape and rigorous life imprisonment with no remission for cases of aggravated sexual assault like gangrape and sexual assaults children.
In this connection, the Central Committee condemned the sexist and anti-women comments from a range of public figures including political leaders and so-called spiritual leaders. The Central Committee strongly rejected the demeaning views expressed by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and the reactionary views of Asaram, the so-called spiritual leader.
The Central Committee called upon the Party and the democratic mass organizations to take the lead to intervene promptly wherever women are subjected to violence and sexual assaults and to take the lead to fight patriarchal notions and male chauvinism in all spheres of society.
The Central Committee condemned the continuing attacks and violence against the CPI(M) and the Left Front cadres. Since the assembly elections in May 2011, 85 members and supporters of the CPI(M) have been killed. The latest illustration is the assault on Abdur Razak Mollah, former minister and senior leader of the Party. Following this assault, people going to a protest rally were also attacked with three people suffering bullet injuries and many vehicles set ablaze.
The Chief Minister and the TMC government are encouraging these attacks keeping in view the forthcoming panchayat elections. The Central Committee strongly demanded an end to such violence and intimidation and peaceful conditions be established for the holding of the panchayat elections in a free and fair manner.
The Central Committee expressed its serious concern at the deteriorating economic and living conditions of the people in West Bengal. The non-payment of salaries and pensions to state transport employees is causing distress and has led to the suicide of five employees and pensioners. Nine workers of closed tea gardens have died due to malnutrition. The strong-arm tactics and intimidation by the TMC men have led to companies being forced to leave West Bengal as in the Haldia port. Crimes against women and extortions are growing. The politics of the TMC and the approach of the state governments are giving a fillip to the communal forces.
The Central Committee heard a report on the activities and the movements conducted by the CPI(M) and the Left Front. The Central Committee extended its full support and solidarity to the Party and the Left Front in West Bengal in tackling the current situation.
The Central Committee noted that even after six months of the ethnic clashes in the BTAD area in Assam, large number of people are still living in refugee camps. There are concerted efforts to thwart the return of the refugees belonging to the Muslim community to their homes and villages.
The Central Committee demanded that the state government take immediate measures for the return of all those living in the camps to their homes and their full rehabilitation.
With the collapse of the BJP-JMM coalition government in Jharkhand, President’s rule has been imposed. The CPI(M) demands the dissolution of the assembly and the holding of fresh elections without delay.
Mass Signature Campaign
The Central Committee exhorted all its Party units to complete the mass signature campaign on food security and for a universal public distribution system being conducted by the Left Parties. The good response to the signature campaign indicates that more than five crore signatures will be collected. These will be submitted to the Prime Minister when the budget session of parliament begins in February.
All India Jathas
The Central Committee finalized the programme of the all India jathas to be conduced by the Party. These jathas which will traverse the length and breadth of the country will propagate the Party’s stand on various major issues affecting the people and the alternative policies of the Left. The issues of food security and price rise; land and house sites; employment; education and health; and the fight against corruption will be focused in these jathas.
The four jathas will be from Kanyakumari to Delhi led by Ramachandran Pillai; Kolkata to Delhi led by Prakash Karat; Mumbai to Delhi led by Sitaram Yechury; and Amritsar to Delhi led by Brinda Karat. Jathas to link up with the main jathas will be conducted from Srinagar, Guwahati, Parlakhemundi (Orissa), Ahmedabad and other centres.
The jathas which will begin from February 25 and the first week of March will culminate in a mass rally in Delhi on March 19, 2013.