Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Removal of Honduras President

June 30, 2009


Press Statement


The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued
the following statement:


The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the coup against the
elected President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya and the forcible removal
from his country. It expresses its solidarity with the people of
Honduras. It is reported that military forces are acting in collusion
with vested interests who opposed the reforms of the country's
constitution to bring it in line with people's aspirations, needs and
fundamental right. The coup took place on the eve of the proposed
national referendum on these issues. The military has surrounded the
houses of important ministers including the Foreign Minister Patricia
Rados and other officials.


Given the international condemnation of the naked attacks on democratic
rights of the people of Honduras, steps should be taken to ensure that
President Zelaya is allowed to return to his country and reinstated in
his position as President. The United Nations should intervene in the
matter.

BENGAL LEFT FRONT CALLS FOR STATEWIDE POLITICAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST ANARCHY, DISCORD

Kolkata, June 29: Bengal Left Front met on 25th June at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan in Kolkata. Biman Basu, chairman, led the discussion. Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was present. The meeting conversed in discursive detail the outline of a political campaign across Bengal touching the issues that concerned the mass of the people. The meeting as usual specified the details of the campaign. Biman Basu later briefed the media in some detail.



The LF leadership in attendance at the Front meeting earlier took up the issue of violence committed with impunity on the people by the goons and professional hoods in the pay and protection of the Bengal opposition, especially the Trinamul Congress, the Pradesh Congress, and the self-styled ‘Maoists.’ The attacks and assaults have been an unpleasant if ongoing feature of opposition ‘politics’ from the time of the parliament election. The aggression intensified following the publication of the Lok Sabha results.



Campaign-movements

Political programmes have already taken place at the initiative of the LF in major cities and townships of Bengal, and this programme has to be made situation specific and with increased and intense mass contact. Biman recalled that the Front meeting after the election results had been announced called for an intensification of people-oriented political campaign work. The bond with the masses must be further improved, the Front had then already decided.



The present meeting dwelled on the mapping out of a precise scenario where the political campaign had the participatory presence of the people themselves, irrespective of their electoral inclination. ‘Common people,’ or ‘sadharan manush,’ were the two important words in the resolve that the experienced Front leadership chose to focus the political highlight on, in the meeting and later at the proscenium of the masses.



COMMON PEOPLE TO THE FORE

The Front chose to stress on such particular programmes touching the sadharan manush in the townships as amongst the hamlets as the rectification of anomalies in the BPL listings; the extended implementation of the NREGA, the work of furnishing of fertilisers (the Front had always particularised bio-fertilisers, one recalls), supply-side qualitative and quantitative improvements in pesticides, higher-yield and pest-resistant seeds-seedlings and so on. The district-specific issue again touching the people are to be identified and implemented appropriately at the level of the district LF.



Taking up the BPL issue the LF leadership felt that the factor of correct identification of people eligible to be brought in the purview of BPL contained lacunae. A section of the impoverished faced problems of livelihoods-- and of lives because of the anomalous situation. Inclusion in the BPL list, Biman pointed out, entailed the cascading benefits of free healthcare as well as of PDS-supplied essential goods of daily consumption at a lower array of prices.



BPL, NREGA ANOMALIES

There was an associated problem to which Biman drew the attention of the media. There remained a plethora of districts in Bengal where the number of counterfeit ration cards proliferated and continued to do so. There are districts where the number of ration cards exceeded the estimated population. A vice versa has prevailed in some other districts. In such clearly anomalous cases as these, the Front’s suggestion to the administration was the cancellation of the ration card and an issuance de novo of such cards to the people. This could be done after the BPL list has been made to stand corrected.



Dwelling on the NREGA, the Left Front thought that weaknesses persisted in the implementation of the programme. Biman would mention ‘various difficulties,’ that would seem to have set the programme back a while. The LF leadership agreed that it must be probed how newer projects could be included in the NREGA programme without flouting or causing anomalies to occur in the concerned central government act. Citing examples, Biman mentioned the task of erecting bunds, earthen or otherwise, in the districts affected by the recent and devastation-causing cyclonic storm.



Bengal must rise above the national average of employment rate of people under this scheme, which is at 60% at the all-India level. The LF leader pointed out that in invoking newer schemes, the evolving situational reality of the Bengal countryside and the principal rural characteristics of the state must be recalled. During the ‘off’ season in the agricultural belts when work is hard to come by for the khet mazdoors and the itinerant farm workers, the NREGA projects could come in very handy for this section of the rural poor. The NREGA could also be used to employ gainfully those of the agri-labour who found it tough going even in the ‘on’ season of sowing, growth, and harvest.



FARM WORK TO BE ACCELERATED

Noting specifically the shortcomings in the supply of farm ‘productive collaterals’ like seeds, pesticides and fertilisers, Biman noted a few precise points in this connection. The senior CPI(M) leader noted that supplies often failed to turn up in good time. In the case of seeds and seedlings, errors of choice have turned up again -- and then once again. Citing instances Biman said that to the astonishment and often dismay of the farmer, the seeds purchased proved to produce crops of a variety different from that anticipated.



The district units of the Left Front have been asked to meet and put on motion a wide-ranging political campaign on all the issues. The campaign-movements will take place in seriatim, at the levels of the blocks, the sub-divisions, and the districts, with each tier of movement climaxing with organisation of deputation to the concomitant levels of state administration. The matters touching the people’s peace and security would be placed before the various levels of the police administration at the same time. Rallies would be organised in a lengthy schedule all over Bengal-- on the developmental and people’s security-related issues, Biman Basu assured the media.



DEVELOPMENT OF THE LATERITE ZONE

Biman also dwelled on the issue of development of the western part of Bengal, an issue that the Front leadership had taken up. Earlier, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee reported on the recent developments taking place at Lalgarh and adjoining blocks of Midnapore west. The report made it clear that with 30, 000-odd people ejected out of home-and-hearth in the jangal mahals by the aggression of the ‘Maoists,’ the fa├žade has been ripped away and the real anti-people face of the marauders exposed in the pitiless light of facts, hard facts. The forcible push forward of the innocent women and children to form human barricades to daunt the security forces has been another example of the barbarity perpetrated by the ‘Maoists’ and their allies, the Trinamul Congress.



LF leadership focussed on the need to speed up development further in the laterite zone of Bengal where most of the poor villages of the state are located. The majority of the Gram Panchayats and the Panchayat Samities of the blocks affected with ‘Maoist’ depredations, e.g., Binpur I and Binpur II, are controlled for some time now by an ally of the ‘Maoists,’ the Jharkhandis. The decentralised plans and programmes were deliberately not implemented in these blocks by the forces of division.



ANTI-PEOPLE JHARKHANDIS, ‘MAOISTS’

Biman mentioned a case that he knew of to exemplify the anti-poor behaviour of the Jharkhandis. At the village of Amlasole, there is an acute water crisis, especially of potable water, come the cruel and unproductive summer months. The need is to dig a large pond where rainwater and sub-soil water will accumulate and filtrate to create a perennial source of water. Since the excavation will endanger the anti-Communist propaganda of both the Bengal opposition and their belligerent cohorts in the big media, the pond never materialised. Finally, it was Dr Pulin Behari Baskey, the present MP and then Zillah Parishad chairman, utilised ZP funds to have the pond dug.



Much in a similar vein, the ‘Maoists’ have indulged in acts of commission including blasting of land mines to destroy both roads and road-making machines. Government offices and tourist bungalows, one recalls in this connection, have been blown up, repeatedly. Road rollers have been set a-fire, and cement mixers have been dragged off into forests and systematically dismantled. Communication network has been torn down for communication is something of which ‘Maoist’ is always afraid. The LF urged upon the state government to add a further and fresh impetus to the ongoing developmental work in the laterite zone of Bengal in particular.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

TRIPURA TO START EMPLOYMENT SCHEME FOR URBAN POOR

Agartala, 20th May
Setting another precedence of its pro poor stance the Left Front Govt of Tripura has decided to start empolyment gurantee program for the urban poor of the state. Unique in its kind all over the country the program coined as Tripura Urban Employment Program will be effective from July 2009. Under the program people living below poverty line in the urban areas of the state will be provided 50 days of work per year. In the 1st phase the program will be implemented in Agartala Municipal Council and the 15 Nagar Panchayats of the state.
The Left parties particularly CPI(M) has all along been demanding that the centre should introduce Employment guarantee schemes for the urban poor following the model of NREGA since in the urban areas too the number of poor people is on the rise. But even after repeated demands the Centre has chosen to turn a deaf ear to this urgent and legitimate demand .So implementing its own promise in the current state budget the state govt has decided to give the much awaited urban employment project a green signal.Because of paucity of funds the number of mandays will 50 as against 100 in NREGA,nonetheless the state has become the trendsetter in introducing such a program for the urban poor.
Just like in NREGA people applying for job under TUEP will also be provided with job cards.People holding BPL cards and those who are enlisted as BPL if not having a card will be entitled to apply for and get a job under the new scheme.One person above the age of 18 years from each family shall be eligible for getting job.
The whole project will be financed by the state govt and initially an amount of rupees 15 crores has been allocated for the purpose.

Politburo Communique on Lok Sabha Polls

The 15th Lok Sabha elections have resulted in the success of the Congress and its allies and they are in a position to form the government. The Congress party has won 61 more seats than the 2004 elections and has got an increased vote share of around 2 per cent according to provisional figures. The BJP has suffered a comprehensive defeat after failing for the second successive time in its bid to come to power with its allies. The BJP tally has come down by 22 seats and its vote share has fallen by over 3 per cent. Thus the loss suffered by the BJP vote share has more or less gone to the Congress. It should be noted that both the parties together have polled less than 48 per cent of the vote, which is less than the 2004 elections.

What stood the Congress in good stead were some of the measures adopted by the UPA government like the NREGA, the Forest Tribal Act and other social welfare measures which were pushed through under Left pressure.

The Congress party also gained more support amongst the minorities and sections of secular minded people who were keen to ensure that the BJP does not make a comeback.

The BJP has been rejected by the people as it could not offer anything beyond its communal agenda combined with rightwing economic policies which the people had already spurned in 2004. The rabid communal rhetoric of the likes of Varun Gandhi and Narendra Modi dominated its election campaign.

The Left parties had allied with certain non-Congress, non-BJP parties in various states. This was required so that a secular electoral alternative emerged. However, these alliances forged in some states on the eve of the elections were not seen by the people as a credible and viable alternative at the national level.

The serious reverses suffered by the CPI (M) and the Left parties in West Bengal and Kerala are of deep concern. The CPI (M) has lost 25 sitting seats from these two states. The CPI (M) has won 16 seats with a vote share of 5.52 per cent, which is marginally less than the 5.66 per cent it got in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. There should be a serious
examination of the reasons for these reverses. Both national and state specific factors are responsible for the poor performance. A self-critical review will be conducted by the concerned state committees and the Central Committee, which should form the basis for corrective steps. The Party will make all out efforts to regain the support and confidence of those sections of the people who have been alienated.

The Polit Bureau congratulated the people of Tripura for giving a massive victory to the two CPI (M)-Left Front candidates for the Lok Sabha. It is remarkable that the Left Front could establish a lead in all the 60 assembly segments of the state.

Accepting the people's verdict, the CPI (M) and the Left parties will work as a responsible opposition in parliament. The country is faced with serious economic difficulties, which have a direct bearing on the people's livelihood and well-being. The new government has to address this issue urgently and squarely. The CPI (M) will be vigilant in defending the interests of the people. It will work for strengthening the unity of the Left parties and will continue the cooperation with other secular parties in the opposition.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Joint Statement by Left Parties on LS Elections

Press Statement
The leaders of the Left parties, the CPI(M), CPI, AIFB and RSP met in New Delhi and have issued the following statement:
The Left parties will work as a responsible opposition in parliament. The Left parties will continue our cooperation with the non-Congress, non-BJP allies. In the light of the Lok Sabha election results, it was decided that each party individually would review the reverses suffered in the elections. Following this, the Left parties will come to a collective assessment on how to overcome the shortcomings and move ahead.

The meeting was attended by A.B. Bardhan, Prakash Karat, Debabrata Biswas, T J Chandrachoodan, Sitaram Yechury, S Ramachandran Pillai, D Raja and G Devarajan.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Lok Sabha Election Results: CPI (M) POlitburo

From India News Network (INN)

New Delhi, May 16: The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

ON LOK SABHA ELECTION RESULTS

The elections to the Lok Sabha have resulted in a victory for the Congress and its allies who will be in a position to form the new government.

The CPI(M) and the Left parties have suffered a major set back in these elections. This necessitates a serious examination of the reasons for the Party's poor performance.

The CPI(M) will continue its cooperation with the non-Congress, non-BJP secular parties with whom we have been working.

The CPI(M) assures all those who have reposed faith in the Party in these elections that we will continue to champion the interests of the working people, national sovereignty and secularism.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lengthening Shadows Of Global Recession

Weekly Editorial

THE country is paying a very high cost for the state of denial of both the Congress and the BJP on the impact of the global economic recession. Mired as they are in the neo-liberal mindset, both are living in an illusion that the current recession is a case of the normal rise and fall of the capitalist business cycle. The current recession, as we had repeatedly shown in these columns, is caused by the structural inadequacies of the capitalist system and is, therefore, a crisis of capitalism and not due to lack of or faulty regulations or excessive greed by a few captains of international finance.

World Bank's Global Economic Prospects (GEP), 2009 says: “What began six months ago with a massive de-leveraging in financial markets has turned into one of the sharpest global economic contradictions in modern history”. It continues to say: “Global GDP is expected to contract by 1.7 per cent in 2009 which would be the first decline in world output on record”.

“The deceleration in economic growth in low-and middle income countries as a group is expected to match the deceleration in high-income countries. The developing world is anticipated to see growth fall from 5.8 per cent in 2008 to 2.1 in 2009, a drop of 3.7 percentage points, similar to the fall in high-income economies (drop of 3.7 per cent from 0.7 per cent to minus 3.0 per cent). This highly synchronous growth collapse cannot be solely explained by trade linkages, but illustrates also that developing countries have been directly hit in their domestic economies by the financial crisis. The reversal of capital flows, collapse in stock markets, and in general the deterioration in financing conditions have brought investment growth in the developing countries to a halt, and in many developing countries investment is sharply declining.” (emphasis added)

This is precisely what we had analysed and anticipated in these columns in the past. On this basis, we had argued that unless there is a quantum leap in public investments, domestic demand and employment cannot be shored up. Without this, the economy cannot be stimulated for growth and to prevent the slide to recession. Unfortunately, the Manmohan Singh government has paid little heed to this. We had even stated both on the floor of the parliament and outside that the general elections cannot be used as an excuse to postpone such a decision as this would have damaging and possibly irreversible impact on our economy.

Given their state of denial, this refusal to sharply increase public investments has had its inevitable effect in the sharp drop in our industrial output. India's industrial output dropped to an alarming minus 2.3 per cent growth in March 2009. Of this, the manufacturing sector, which has nearly 80 per cent weightage in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) fell by a whopping minus 3.3 per cent.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India has been estimated to have dropped by over 55 per cent – from $4.4 billion in March 2008 to $2 billion in March 2009. India's exports have declined for the seventh consecutive month in April 2009 amounting to a fall of 33 per cent. Similarly, imports contracted by 35 per cent. While this may narrow the trade deficit, the export targets for 2008-09 are much less than even the revised scaling down done by the commerce ministry.

Notwithstanding the bombastic claims made regarding India's GDP growth rates by the government, the GEP has estimated the current growth rate this year to be 5.5 per cent projected to fall to 4 per cent next year. Apart from having a devastating impact on employment (with reports of various agencies indicating that over a crore of jobs have already been lost and many lakhs returning from foreign lands having lost jobs there), this sharp fall in the growth rate has increased the level of poverty in India with the GEP estimating that we are now only ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of population below the poverty line with over a quarter of Indians “living in extreme poverty” living on less than $1.25 a day. In terms of purchasing power parity, this tallies with the estimation of the Arjun Sengupta Report of 78 per cent of Indians living on less than Rs 20 a day.

Given this reality check of our economic fundamentals, it is clear that the Indian people need to brace themselves for much harder economic conditions in the near future. This can be prevented only by the new government substantially hiking public investment that will generate both employment and demand while, at the same time, building the much needed economic and social infrastructure in the country.