Nine political parties of the country met at the CPI (M) office at AKG Bhawan in New Delhi on January 20, 2011, to discuss the excruciating price rise situation. They issued the following statement after the meeting.
THE people are suffering due to the relentless increase in the prices of food items. Onions and vegetables have gone out of the reach of the common people. Food inflation remains unbearably high. The general inflation rate of 8.5 per cent is an iniquitous tax on the people. While the people are groaning under price rise, the country is witnessing rampant corruption and plunder of resources.
Yet, the UPA government remains callous to the plight of the people. False assurances are given that the prices will come down within a short period. The ministers in the UPA government are giving differing and contradictory statements regarding price rise and how to tackle it.
The government has not taken any effective measures to curb price rise. On the contrary, its policies have contributed to inflation.
1) Since deregulation, petrol prices have been hiked seven times leading to 20 per cent rise in petrol prices. Oil companies have increased the price of petrol twice in a month. The hike amounts to a steep Rs 5.50 per litre.
2) The government has not stopped the speculation through forward trading in food items and essential commodities.
3) The export-import measures for commodities such as onions etc have fuelled price rise and only helped the private trading companies to make huge profits.
4) The price rise of food items has not benefited the farmers. In many areas, farmers in distress continue to commit suicides. Neither do they get remunerative prices nor are they compensated adequately for crop losses. The central government has not extended adequate assistance to meet the losses of farmers due to unseasonal rains.
The Manmohan Singh government wants to allow foreign companies in the muti-brand retail trade on the pretext that it will lower the retail prices. Instead, this will mean loss of livelihood for lakhs of shopkeepers and traders.
To condemn the failure of the government to curb price rise and to demand immediate steps to check rising prices, we, the representatives of the undersigned political parties, have decided to call for a countrywide agitation against price rise and to demand the following immediate steps:
1) Prohibit forward trading in food items and essential commodities.
2) Universalise the public distribution system; distribute the excess foodgrain stocks in FCI godowns at BPL rates.
3) Take firm measures against hoarding.
4) Provide remunerative prices to farmers and inputs at reasonable cost to boost productivity in agriculture.
5) End the deregulation of petroleum products; roll back the budgetary hikes on petroleum products and rationalise the tax structure on petroleum products.
6) Don’t allow foreign capital in retail trade.
We have decided to jointly conduct a week-long agitation against price rise from February 3 to 9. During this week, there will be picketing of central government offices, protest demonstrations, dharnas and rallies. On February 9, on the last day of the week, there will be a mass dharna which will be attended by thousands of people, at New Delhi in which the main leaders of all the parties will participate.
The statement was signed by Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), H D Deve Gowda (Janata Dal - Secular), A B Bardhan (Communist Party of India), Nama Nageswara Rao (Telugu Desam Party), Arjun Charan Sethi (Biju Janata Dal), Thambidurai (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazgam), Debabrata Biswas (All India Forward Bloc), Ajit Singh (Rashtriya Lok Dal) and Abani Roy (Revolutionary Socialist Party). Others who attended the meeting were Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Atul Kumar Anjan (CPI) and G Devarajan (AIFB).