Countrywide protests against Price Hike and Anti-People Measures

In response to the CPI(ML)’s central call, CPI(ML) units all over the country implemented a Bharat Bandh strike on 20 September.

The unprecedentedly steep hike in the price of diesel and the move to limit subsidised cooking gas cylinders to six per family per year, as well as introduction of FDI in multi-brand retail and civil aviation are body blows to the common people’s livelihood and survival.

The limiting of cooking gas cylinders will mean that families will be forced to buy cooking fuel at market rates, imposing a severe burden on their already constrained circumstances. The hike in diesel prices will inevitably result in a hike in transport costs which, in turn, will impact on food prices.

The UPA Government’s claim that the hikes are justified in the light of losses suffered by oil companies is a shameless falsehood, since all the oil and gas companies have recorded substantial net profits.

The UPA Government has arrogantly gone ahead with notification of FDI in multi-brand retail, claiming that this will bring down prices and create jobs. Ironically, at a time when India is rolling out the red carpet for retail MNC giants like Walmart and TESCO, they are facing unprecedentedly massive protest in the countries of their origin!

In the largest-ever protest against Walmart in U.S. history, thousands of Walmart workers and local resident in Los Angeles (especially the Chinatown area) held a rally against Walmart’s labour practices. The rally carried a massive banner that read: “Walmart = Poverty,” while protestors displayed placards saying “Walmart: How the 1% Hurts the 99%.”

A leader of the Walmart workers’ protest said, “Walmart’s chief product is poverty. Walmart gets rich by keeping its employees poor; however, Walmart workers are organizing for decent wages and affordable benefits. Until Walmart stops selling poverty, we don’t want it in Los Angeles.”

Ordinary Americans say Walmart sells poverty – and Manmohan Singh is now inviting the Walmarts of the world to come to peddle poverty in India!

For the ruling class opposition parties, the opposition to price hike and FDI in retail is merely a part of political bargaining and calculations. Therefore, Mamata Banerjee withdraws support from the Government but refuses to support the Bandh. And Mulayam Singh participates in a traders’ protest at Jantar Mantar but, in keeping with his Nuke Deal about-turn script, reiterates his support to the UPA Government in the name of ‘keeping communal forces out of power’ the very next day. Mayawati and Mulayam both, acutely aware of CBI cases against them that the Congress can use to its advantage, are both firmly with the Government.

For the people, however, intensifying protests is the only course. The Bharat Bandh of 20 September is only a foretaste. The UPA Government has betrayed its mandate – and must go!

Liberation Archive