» News » CPM unveils manisfesto, slams UPA's neo-liberal policies

CPM unveils manisfesto, slams UPA's neo-liberal policies

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: March 16, 2009 17:30 IST
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Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat said though All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalitha could not join the meeting of leaders belonging to the Third Front but she was very much in touch with them."In fact she approved of the six point charter that formed the basis of Sunday's discussion," Karat said while addressing a press conference at the release of the first part of party's election manifesto in New Delhi.

Karat accused the United Progressive Alliance government of failing on all fronts. "The four years that we were supporting the UPA, we took a number of steps which had positive impact on our economy. It is because of the stand taken by the Left parties on the banking and insurance sectors that ensured these sectors did not collapse. We would like Dr Manmohan Singh's government to do us one favour. They should write to the Swiss banks to give us names of those who have stashed away money in these banks. The USA,UK and European Union have already done this, so why can't we do it?" Karat said.

He asked the electorate to give a chance to the non-Bharatiya Janata Party and non-Congress front to provide an alternative. Karat said though the government was claiming that inflation had come down to almost zero, The farmers continued to commit suicide. A one-time loan waver would not do and the government has to come out with comprehensive loan waver package.

Karat critised the government for having ration cards for different categories. "There should be one ration card for every one," he said. He charged the government of India of signing a miliary agreement with USA in exchange for selling nuclear reactors and each of these reactors cost Rs 28,000 crore. "I can tell you that the cost of the electricity would not be less than Rs 8 per unit," Karat said.

He pleaded with the government to rework the 123 agreement, scrap the military alliance and re-emerge as the leader of non-alighnment. Karat criticsed for the central government failing to proscribe the Bajrang Dal for its indulgence in violence. "They would not allow Hindu girl to meet a Muslim boy and beat them in public.The Biju Janata Dal realised that it cannot go along with BJP. More than thirty persons were killed and people from minorities have been harassed. Kandharmal is one such example. While Advani refers to us as the Third Front, Pranab Mukherjee says he does not know what is the Third Front is. Let the results come and he would know it," Karat added.

Karat termed the signing of the nuclear deal as the "biggest betrayal" by the UPA as the issue was not mentioned in its Common Minimum Programme. The CPM leader said there were provisions in the 123 Agreement which provided India with possibilities to renegotiate it. "We will scrap the strategic alliance with the US. The fulcrum of the deal is the 10-year Defence Framework Agreement. This is what the US wants most. The first step that will follow will be its scrapping," he said. Karat accused the "minority" government of "betraying" its own CMP by forging the strategic alliance with US, "denigrating Parliament and displaying contempt for democratic procedures."

Criticising the "neo-liberal" economic policies of the UPA, Karat said CPM would increase annual plan expenditure to ten per cent of India's Gross Development Product, halt further tax concessions to corporates, launch a drive to unearth black money, especially those stashed in Swiss banks and other off-shore tax havens. On the banking sector, he said "if Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram had their way, our private banks would have collapsed. But our struggle forced them not to do many things" like allowing 74 per cent foreign equity in private banks and restricting the proposal of 49 per cent FDI in the insurance sector to 26 per cent. Maintaining that the Left did not allow the UPA to privatise insurance sector, he said "(US firm) AIG's fate would have been the fate of our insurance firms had we gone for such policies. The savings of lakhs of employees would have gone up in smoke had we allowed investing pension funds in the stock market." The manifesto also spoke of universalising public distribution system, cutting petrol, diesel prices by slashing taxes and duties, strengthening the public sector, protecting the domestic industry and prohibiting FDI in retail sector.

Additional Inputs: PTI

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi