On October 16, all Left parties in the country held nationwide protests against the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government’s policies that have triggered the current economic slowdown. In the national capital in Delhi, the Left party leaders joined by their cadres rallied on the Parliament street while raising slogans of resistance.
Left parties including Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Ghadar Party among others held various forms of protest demonstrations – rallies, road blockades and dharnas across all states highlighting the devastating state of economy under the present BJP regime. Today’s protests were preceded by a country-wide campaign led by Left parties and their affiliated mass organisations on the ongoing economic crisis in the country.
Speaking at the protest rally in Delhi, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the right-wing government has adopted devastating policies that are proving to be detrimental to the people. “Nearly 20 lakh jobs have fallen in the automobile sector, about 30 lakh workers lost jobs in the textile sector and unemployment rate is at a historic high today, but the government is only keen on bailing out rich corporates, instead of focusing on increasing the purchasing power of the people,” said Yechury. He added that the unprecedented economic crisis in the country today is a result of repeated economic blunders of demonetisation, followed by a complex Goods and Service Tax (GST) and the crony capitalism of the BJP government.
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The demands put forward by the communist parties include – increase in public investment to generate employment, while providing unemployment allowance to the youth until then; to ensure a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month; ensure the provision of monthly living wages for the large number of workers who have been terminated; stop privatisation of the public sector; withdraw 100% FDI in defence and coal sectors; halt the large scale privatisation of BSNL, Ordnance Factories, Indian Railways, Air India and other PSUs (public sector undertakings); allocations for MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) to be enhanced to ensure the payment of past dues and for providing a minimum of 200 days of work at the designated minimum wage; a one-time loan waiver to the farmers to meet agrarian distress, stem growing farmers suicides and announcement and implementation of the minimum support price one and a half times higher than the input costs; raise minimum monthly old age/widow pension to Rs 3,000.
In Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, state police have arrested Left party leaders including CPI(M) state secretary P Madhu, CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna and several other party members who were participating in a road blockade as part of the all India protests.
In Telangana, Left parties that are already participating in the ongoing strike by the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) there, had held separate protest demonstrations criticising the anti-people policies of the central government.
Raising slogans against the BJP government, Left parties, joined by hundreds of their cadres held rallies, protests and dharnas in far remote villages to district headquarters of states including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, Tripura, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
“Defeat the Politics of Divide, Divert and Rule! Unite for Jobs, Dignity and Social Harmony!” is the slogan that resounded during the rally in Delhi.
According to the Left parties and prominent economists, the BJP government—in the name of stimulus to the Indian economy—has reduced corporate tax rate which is erroneous and a measure that would entail a transfer of Rs 1.45 lakh crore from the public exchequer to the corporate sector. Instead of falling to the corporate lobby, they argue that the government should have infused the money to increase the standard of living of the poor sections in the society.