Against Soaring Prices, Mega Scams,
Assault on Democracy
AILC March to Parliament Demanding
‘UPA Government Quit Power!’
On 14 March, thousands of people from all over the country marched through the streets of Delhi to Parliament demanding that the UPA Government quit in light of unprecedented corruption, backbreaking price rise, rampant unemployment and assault on people’s movements.
The ‘People’s March to Parliament’ was organized by the All India Left Coordination (AILC) comprising four Left parties - the CPI(ML) Liberation, CPM Punjab, Left Coordination Committee (Kerala) and Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra.
For two consecutive days prior to the 14th, rallyists from various states thronged the Capital city to participate in the March. On 14 March, the procession – well decorated with red banners and flags, colourful festoons and placards and reverberating with slogans demanding ‘UPA Government Quit Power’ – marched from the Ramlila Grounds at 11 am. Participants in the March were from all over the country including Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Kerala. The procession culminated in a mass meeting at Parliament Street.
Senior leaders, leaders from various states of the four parties graced the dais. The mass meeting was presided over by a presidium consisting of the leaders from the four left parties which included Comrades Rameshwar Prasad (CPIML), Rajendra Baooke (LNP-L), Vimla (LCC-Kerala) and Ratanlal Randhawa (CPM Punjab). The proceedings were conducted by Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, Central Committee member of CPI(ML). The sea of demonstrators was welcomed on behalf of Delhi State Committee member Comrade Ravi Rai.
The main speakers at the meeting were the main leaders of the constituent parties – Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI(ML), Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of the CPM Punjab, Comrade Bhim Rao Bansode, Secretary of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist), and Comrade Hariharan from LCC (Kerala). The meeting was also addressed by Comrades Vinod Singh (CPIML’s MLA in Jharkhand), Krishna Adhikari (CPIML Leader from UP), Harkanwal (CPM Punjab), Mahendra Chaudhary (CPIML’s Rajasthan State Secretary), Uday Bhatt (LNP-L, Maharashtra), Bhagwant Samao (CPIML, Punjab) and AIKS General Secretary Rajaram Singh (CPIML, Bihar) among other leaders of the four parties.
Rousing revolutionary songs against corruption, price rise and repression, were rendered by the Jharkhand Sanskritik Manch (Prerna).
A brief summary of the speeches of the four main leaders at the March follows:
Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI(ML) Liberation:
“People’s anger is growing against governments especially the UPA Government which has burdened the country with crisis, corruption and price rise. The government first came to power in 2004 with promises of food security and employment guarantee for the aam aadmi. Now, people are dying of hunger, but when the Supreme Court asked the Government to distribute food rotting in godowns, it refused. Every single day, 240 crore is being drained away as black money while Rs 240 crore worth of corporate taxes are being waived. The ‘standard’ of scams has gone up – every scam amounts to a minimum of Rs 1 lakh crore. Had these huge amounts been spent on the people, we could easily feed and educate every citizen. We are here to demand that these amounts be spent on our farmers, our people.
In 1991, Manmohan Singh became Finance Minister on the recommendation of the IMF, and introduced liberalisation. Sector after sector was privatised and through FDI, foreign control increased in every area of the economy. Even the BJP-NDA Governments continued this policy. Even as we demand that the UPA Government quit, comrades today are holding protests in Karnataka and Chhattisgarh to demand ouster of corrupt BJP Governments which are branding democratic voices as ‘sedition.’
The UPA Government is fast becoming a US puppet, with US influence visible in all its policies. In Pakistan today, a US spy openly kills Pakistanis and the US demands that US laws apply inside Pakistan. If we do not urgently change direction, our country too will meet the same fate. A wave of change is sweeping the entire world. Latin America led a way with anti-imperialist awakening in many countries. The Arab world has risen up next with the demands of food, dignity and freedom. These uprisings are proving that people in the 21st century are not willing to tolerate governments that sell out their own country to imperialist interests. We support the aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, but what business does the US have to meddle there? Let Libya decide its own future, free from imperialist war!
Manmohan Singh has said that he will continue in government because he has work to complete. What work remains? What remains left to sell away – our agriculture, education, land, forests, water, minerals? Caught red-handed colluding with corporate agents to allow the billionaire Ambanis, Mittals, Tatas etc to loot the country’s resources, the Government appointed a tainted CVC in a bid to ensure a cover-up. There is only one way to atone for playing thus with a vigilance body – the UPA Government must quit office.
Those protesting against this plunder – be they ordinary peasants and tribals or intellectuals like Binayak Sen – are being branded as ‘seditious’ and subjected to severest repression. The Congress-led UPA Government and the Prime Minister have no moral authority to rule and the people of the country demand that they quit.
The policy regime of liberalization-privatisation is responsible for the unprecedented crisis of inflation, unemployment and corruption. The time had come to punish and oust those responsible for this crisis and demand a reversal of the disastrous anti-people policies. The All India Left Coordination (AILC) platform had been formed to offer a fighting Left alternative to the people in the current crisis.
Unfortunately the CPI(M)-led LF state Governments, instead of acting true to workers and peasants, betrayed them in favour of the corporate. This opportunism is not acceptable.
The AILC has taken the challenge of inheriting the legacy of Punnapra, Vayalar, Telangana, Naxalbari. We have reached out to all well-wishers of the Left movement, all committed and true Left workers. For the ‘Left’ parties that are in power, there may be a crisis, but there is no crisis for those of us whose strength and confidence rests in the people, in the struggles on the streets. We have called to reorient the entire Left movement in the country, and we are confident that this will be achieved.”
Comrade Hariharan, Convenor of LCC (Kerala):
“We are gathered here to demand that the Government quit over price rise and corruption. We are from Kerala, where price rise has an even more devastating impact because of agricultural backwardness.
In Kerala, the CPI(M)-led LDF Government did not have the character of a Left Government, but was rather behaving like ruling class governments, privatising education, health and serving corporate houses. The same was the case in West Bengal. When we left the CPI(M), we sought out fighting left forces and came into contact with the CPI(ML), and with the CPM Punjab and LNP(L).
Under the UPA Government, corruption is spreading like a cancer – to all sectors, states, even to the army, judiciary and media. The Manmohan Singh Government is responsible for the CWG scam, the 2G scam and a series of other mega scams. Even the former Chief Justice, present NHRC Chairperson Balakrishnan has turned out to be tainted. The Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre had shamelessly persisted in appointing PJ Thomas, tainted in the Kerala palmolein scam as well as the telecom scam, to head the country’s apex anti-corruption body.
Communists had a proud track record of being free from corruption. But CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan has blotted that record, not just of the CPI(M) but of all communists, by being chargesheeted in the Lavalin case. The LCC (Kerala) will contest the forthcoming elections in Kerala on the plank of a powerful anti-corruption campaign.
The Prime Minister and Government responsible for the crisis of corruption and price rise must quit without any delay. Our March to Parliament is to assert the determination of the struggling Left and the people against corporate loot and corruption, and to ensure that Manmohan Singh and his Government is forced to quit their seats!”
Comrade Bhimrao Bansode, Secretary, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist):
“The Governments at state and Centre, far from resolving the crisis, have worsened it. Not only food, the prices of all essentials including vegetables, fuel, clothes, have all soared. Unemployment has grown in leaps and bounds. The former CM of Maharashtra, Congress leader Ashok Chavan, played a key role in the Adarsh scam. Manmohan and Sonia got Ashok Chavan to resign, but Prithviraj Chavan who replaced him has played a key role in the appointment of the tainted Thomas as CVC!
The UPA Government had appointed the same man as agriculture minister who presided over the record number of farmers’ suicides in Maharashtra! Sharad Pawar defended onion price rise in the name of better remuneration for farmers, but that is a lie – onion farmers continue to get a pittance for their produce.
In Raigad, people successfully resisted a land grab attempt by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance, and the LNP(L) played an active role in this struggle. But in Jaitapur in the Konkan region, peasants and fisherpeople resisting the proposed atomic power plant and a range of other power plants are facing wholesale arrests and repression. The AILC visited Jaitapur and have continued to stand in solidarity with their struggle. The explosion of the nuclear power plant in the wake of the tsunami and quake in Japan has proved that the protests of the Konkan’s people has a solid basis and the Government cannot be allowed to play with the lives and livelihood of the people.
Our Parliament March is a step in the direction of strengthening the struggle to achieve the Red Flag atop the Red Fort!”
Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM Punjab:
“Why did we form the AILC, and why have we marched to Parliament today? Because the Congress Government at the Centre is not giving jobs to youth, food to the people, rights to women. Peasants are being crushed under the burden of debt. The wealth that should be spent on education and health is being swallowed by the series of scams, corporate loot and black money promoted by the Manmohan Singh Government.
We raised our voice against repression and draconian laws. Tribals are being killed to make way for corporate grab of land and forests, the people of Kashmir are being killed in mourning processions – we cannot allow this. The AILC held a country-wide Kashmir Solidarity Day last year in protest against repression in the Valley.
It is being said that Manmohan is honest. We want to ask: if a PM allowed his Ministers to loot the exchequer, if he did not act against any Minister until forced to do so by the SC, if Congress leaders in Maharashtra are corrupt and Congress Ministers in the Central Government are proven to be corporate appointees, then is such a PM honest? We demand that such a PM resign, and if not, then Cairo will be repeated on Indian soil.
Congress leaders add insult to injury by saying prices are rising because people are spending too much. The Prime Minister, when asked when prices will come down, says, “How can I tell, am I an astrologer?” such callousness cannot be tolerated.
We have a glorious legacy of resistance to communal politics. 300 comrades were martyred at the hands of fundamentalists in Punjab. We are committed to resisting the communal fascist Sangh, the Shiv Sena and the BJP.
We do not believe in AK-47s as a route to revolutionary change. Nor do we want more Nandigrams and Singurs, or opportunistic compromise with Congress governments at the Centre and Laloo, Mulayam, DMK, AIADMK in states. We stand for a revolutionary Left assertion, and it is for that that we have come here from all over the country. We know that the struggle will be protracted and will need perseverance and courage. But we know that human beings can change history. With the red flag in our hands, our March and our platform will give a new direction for the Left movement, for our country.”
Adopted By the
March to Parliament
1) Two decades of liberalization, privatization and globalization policies have landed the country in all-round crisis. Relentlessly rising prices are pauperizing the common people while mega scams and growing black money are robbing the national exchequer. Instead of controlling prices and punishing the corrupt, the UPA government is bent upon protecting the guilty and harassing honest and upright people. The Government shamelessly tried to appoint the tainted PJ Thomas as the CVC. When prevented by the Court, PM Manmohan Singh said he took responsibility for this ‘error.’ There is only one way to take responsibility for such an encouragement of corruption - the UPA Government must accept that it has lost the right to remain in power, and must resign immediately. This Mass Meeting demands that the UPA Government quit power, and also resolves to launch a nationwide agitation for urgent reversal of the policies of liberalization-privatisation-globalisation that are resulting in unprecedented price rise, unemployment and corruption.
2) The Budget this year not only does nothing to curb inflation, it slashes subsidies on food, fuel and fertilizer and therefore further burdens the toiling masses and rural poor. But the same Budget, by cuts in surcharge, and by giving total tax concessions to corporates and the super-rich in the past year to the tune of over Rs. 5 lakh crore, effectively subsidises the corporate class. The disinvestment target has been doubled to Rs 40000 cr. It is obvious that the Government is not prepared to back its promises of food security with actual budgetary allocation for PDS coverage. The meeting resolves that a Government that promotes the interests of corporate houses at the cost of the aam aadmi must go, and resolves to intensify the struggle for effective measures to curb inflation and ensure food security for all.
3) The UPA Government’s tenure has seen one mega-scam after another in every sector of the economy. In these scams, the country’s precious natural resources – land, minerals, oil, telecom spectrum, all are being looted by corporates with the complicity and connivance of influential people manning different institutions in the country, including the army as well as judiciary and even media. The Radia tapes have shown us how the corporates have a stranglehold on the entire system – be it selection of Ministers, national policies and decisions, court judgements or media stories. On the one hand, it is the policy regime of liberalization-privatization-globalisation (LPG) that is responsible for this scale of corruption and corporate loot. On the other, not only is the anti-corruption machinery in the country toothless, the Government also further renders it ineffective by appointing pliant people – as in the latest instance of CVC appointment. This meeting therefore resolves to demand a decisive change in the LPG policy regime as well as the speedy enactment of transparent, democratic and effective anti-corruption legislation on the lines of the Jan Lokpal Bill as drafted by eminent members of civil society.
4) All over the country we are witnessing an all-out assault on democracy. People’s movements challenging corporate land grab have met with severe repression, be it at Kalinganagar, POSCO, Srikakulam or Singur and Nandigram. Operation Green Hunt has proved to be a witch-hunt, with rights activists and intellectuals like Binayak Sen who act as voices of conscience being jailed for ‘sedition.’ Even courts have proved to make a mockery of the law and deliver political judgements in such cases. There are hundreds of poor people and activists who are facing a similar fate – for instance the 14 CPI(ML) activists who have been jailed under TADA, when the possession of Marxist literature was the only ‘proof’ of terrorist intent! Draconian laws like the TADA, AFSPA, CSPSA have resulted in an undeclared Emergency in the country, and innocents are being killed in fake encounters daily. This meeting demands the scrapping of the sedition law and other draconian laws, release of Binayak Sen and other activists arrested under these laws, and an end to Operation Green Hunt.
5) Around Rs 240 crore worth of black money flows out of the country every single day. A handful of the super-rich bleed the country’s veins to stash away these immense amounts of ill-gotten gains in Swiss banks. Not only has the UPA Government shown no will whatsoever to bring back this wealth to the country’s coffers, it has actually left wide open the routes for this plunder by signing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with tax havens like Mauritius. This meeting demands that every rupee of black money be brought back to the country, and every route for this plunder be plugged without an instant’s delay.
6) Women’s rights in India are under increasing attack. Uttar Pradesh has witnessed a spate of crimes against women including rapes by several MLAs of the ruling BSP. In Bihar, a woman raped by a BJP MLA was driven by police inaction to take the desperate measure of stabbing him. In Delhi, on Women’s Day itself, a young college girl was shot dead. All over the country, young couples are being killed for choosing their own partners. Governments have shown their lack of political will to punish perpetrators of crimes against women. Even courts have often proved insensitive – in a recent instance the Supreme Court let off three gang-rapists on the payment of Rs 50000 each, while many court verdicts have proved lenient towards perpetrators of honour killings. This meeting salutes the legacy of International Women’s Day on the occasion of its centenary year, and extends solidarity to the women’s movement in its ongoing struggle for equality, dignity and rights.
7) Aseemanand’s confession has revealed beyond doubt the role of the RSS and Sangh Parivar outfits in a series of terrorist acts that took the lives of innocents – including the blasts at Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express. Many of these terrorists from the Sangh camp have been people known to be close to top BJP leaders including Advani and Modi. It is a matter of great concern that even army officials have been found to be part of this saffron terror network, providing arms as well as training. In many of the cases innocent Muslim youth faced unfair arrest and torture for the crimes committed by the saffron brigade. This meeting demands a ban on the communal fascist RSS which is the fountainhead of communal violence and saffron terror. It also demands a thorough investigation to reveal the entire network of saffron terror and its linkages with the BJP leadership. The meeting also demands immediate release of, as well as adequate compensation for, all the unfairly implicated Muslim youth.
8) This meeting expresses deep sorrow at the devastation caused to the people of Japan by the earthquake and tsunami followed by the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. The explosion in the nuclear reactor bears out the apprehensions and concerns about the safety of civilian nuclear power projects in India as well. This meeting demands a thorough and independent review and reassessment of India’s nuclear programme in the light of safety standards, costs and performance of all existing reactors in India. It further demands a moratorium on the construction of any new nuclear plants including the one at Jaitapur, Maharashtra, which is based on a hitherto untested design.
9) This meeting congratulates the people of Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt for the popular uprisings that successfully ousted US-backed dictatorial regimes that had ruled for several decades. We welcome this mood of popular awakening on the questions of unemployment, price rise, corruption, trade union rights and democratic rights, that is spreading across the Arab world. We are sure that these will inspire the people’s movements on these issues in India too. While hailing these uprisings however, this meeting expresses concern and warns against meddling and military encirclement of Libya by the US and Nato.
State-level Action in Solidarity with March to Parliament
On 14 March, protest actions were also held in several states against both the UPA Government at the Centre and the respective state governments. Foremost among these was a March to the Karnataka Assembly (see detailed report below). A dharna was held at Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
In West Bengal, protests were held on 11 March at all districts on the same issues, also propagating about the rally in Delhi.
In Tamil Nadu public meetings in solidarity with March to Parliament were held at several places: at Ambattur on March 12, where CPI(ML) candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections Comrades S Janakiraman (Madhavaram), K Palanivel (Ambattur), A Socratese (Sripeumbudur) were introduced; at the Madhavaram constituency on March 13; at Kumarapalayam on March 14 where the candidate Comrade V enkatachalam was introduced and at Mettupalayam where the candidate Com. R Janakiraman was introduced. Com. S Kumarasami, CPI(ML)’s PB member addressed all these meetings.
In Andhra Pradesh protests were held at many districts. At Visakhapatnam, a protest march was held, led by CPI(ML) CCM Comrade Malleswara Rao. At Kakinada, a colourful rally was organised from the party office to the collectorate in which 1000 people participated, culminating in a protest meeting addressed by CPI(ML) PBM Comrade N Murthy, CCM B Bangarrao, and many other leaders. At Vijayawada the protest was held at the subcollector’s office. At Ananthapur, hundreds of people encircled the collectorate. At Khammam, a march was held which culminated in a dharna before collector’s office. At Jangareddygudem of West Godavari, a protest was held at the RDO office. A dharna was held at the mandal office at Nandikotkur.
In support of the Parliament March on 14 March, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands unit of the AICCTU held a demonstration at the Secretariat at Port Blair.
‘Vidhana Soudha Chalo’ at Bengaluru!
Coinciding with the March to Parliament in Delhi, the CPI(ML) organised a ‘Vidhana Soudha Chalo’ rally on 14 March 2011 demanding resignation of the corrupt and anti-people BJP government in Karnataka. The rally culminated at a public meeting in front of the Town Hall.
Corruption, price rise and state repression were the focus of the rally and was organised in association with AICCTU, AIALA, AIPWA and AISA.
CPI(ML) Central Committee Member Com. V Shankar, State Secretary E Ramappa, AIALA State President J Bharadwaj, AICCTU State Secretary C Javaraiah, AIPWA state Vice President Ranjani, Secretary Gandhimathi, AISA State Convener DM Prasad, and AICCTU Bangalore District Secretary G Somu addressed the gathering in front of Town Hall.
Com. Shankar called upon the people of Karnataka to put an end to the anti-worker, anti-people BJP government in the state and demanded resignation of the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government. He also said that reactionary forces like RSS and BJP do not have any place in the secular society of Karnataka. BJP’s mantra of development is not for the development of the society as a whole but a development of mining mafia and the families of its leaders. He criticised the central leaders of BJP for defending corruption in high places.
He exposed the BJP Government’s claim of ‘a separate and special Budget on agriculture’ as hollow and devoid of substance. The budget claims to increase the rural income and to slow down migration to urban areas, but, in reality, the budget is focusing more on agri-business and capital investments in agriculture. It is trying to make Karnataka an attractive destination for global and domestic capital. Bellary district is divided between Reddy Brothers and Mittals. Jindals are also offered their share of hundreds of acres of land. Haveri district is being offered to POSCO. Now, the Yeddy government is planning to sell off remaining lands also to agri-business corporate companies.
He said that neither the BJP nor the Congress and JD(S) have any moral right to fight corruption. He also condemned the Somashekhara Commission report which covered up the Sangh’s attacks on churches, and the cow slaughter Act formulated against Muslims and Christians. He accused the BJP government of promoting state terrorism against minorities in the state. He called the rally a signal of the determination of revolutionary Left forces in Karnataka to assert themselves and intensify the fight for justice and secular democracy.
Com. E Ramappa, state secretary, called upon the people to fight for the demands like inclusion of all unorganised workers under BPL list, regularisation of Bagarhukum lands, end to corruption in public life and also in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. He said that only the people’s struggle can really be an alternative to the BJP, not the Congress or JD(S).
Com. Bharadwaj, AIALA state president, demanded reversal of pro-corporate, pro-multinational orientation of agriculture in the state. Javaraiah, AICCTU state secretary, said the budget was a big farce and cared only for people like Narayana Murthys and not the toiling masses. He demanded the government to end anti-worker measures and to enact a scheme to build a ‘Karmika Nagara’ to award houses to all workers in Bengaluru. G Somu, Bengaluru district secretary of AICCTU, said workers will continue their struggle for better livelihood and worker’s rights. He also demanded a minimum pension of Rs.7500 to all organized and unorganized workforce in the country and declared struggle against handing over of PF amount to the corporate and MNCs. He also demanded equal wages and other facilities to contract workers. Com. Ranjani spoke on the need for independent assertion of women’s movement to challenge the patriarchal assault on women’s freedom orchestrated by the Sangh Parivar under the patronage of the BJP Government. Com. Gandhimathi demanded arrest of Pramod Muthalik for ‘moral policing’ and spreading the bogey of ‘love jihad’.
AICCTU workers of Bengaluru came forward on their own to provide lunch to all rallyists coming from faraway places in the state. The effort was not based on any decision but a spontaneous response of class fraternity in urban areas to the fighting people from the rural areas. Such an exemplary display of working class solidarity with the rural toiling masses that is comparable only to the struggles of ‘80s when public sector workers of Bengaluru fed thousands of struggling farmers from Nargund and Navalgund with chappatis piled like mountains. This is the spirit of the working class solidarity and the lifeline of any fighting organization.