After hundreds of small and big protests by workers, peasants, and working people demanding that the UPA government take immediate measures to control prices of essential commodities, the Indian people organized a massive Bharat Bandh on July 5, 2010. The Communist Ghadar Party of India as well as various other political parties, trade union organizations, traders' organizations, as well as student and youth organizations gave the call for this day of action. Mazdoor Ekta Lehar congratulates the workers, peasants, working people and traders of our country for making this Bharat Bandh a resounding success.
The people of India have given a clear message to the UPA government - "either take immediate measures to control prices, or quit. You are not fit to rule." Why are the people of our country saying this?
For two years on end, rising of essential commodities —foodgrains, pulses, sugar, cooking oil, milk, vegetables — have been rising. Prices of all essentials — public transport, electricity, cooking gas, petrol, diesel, have being shooting up. They have imposed an unbearable burden on the backs of our workers and working people.
People have been demanding a Modern Universal Public Distribution through which the essentials of mass consumption, particularly food items, are provided to the people in adequate quantity and good quality and affordable prices.
People have been demanding that the price of petrol, diesel, cooking gas, transport, electricity be controlled and reduced, to provide relief to the workers, peasants and working people.
The UPA government has been trotting out one excuse after another as to why prices are rising, every time promising that prices will come down in 6 months time! It is acting as if the hand of god is responsible for the rising prices, not the act of definite human beings who are profiting from the misery of people. We have had an agricultural minister saying eating sugar is not good for health. We have the President of this country arguing that prices have risen because the poor people in countryside have money in their hands thanks to the MGNREGA scheme. The UPA government has refused to heed the demand for a Universal Public Distribution system, saying it does not have enough money.
When the budget was announced, it was accompanied by a sharp rise in price of petrol, diesel, and gas used for transport. People demanded withdrawal of these measures. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherji arrogantly refused to do so.
The straw that has broken the back of the camel, the people of India is this — not only has this government not taken any measures to control prices, it has actually taken measures to ensure they skyrocket. Everyone can see this. The government has announced “decontrol of petroleum prices”, which has led to a sharp increase in the price of petrol, diesel, cooking gas, CNG, and with a cascading effect, on transport and the costs of food items. It is a massive attack on the livelihood of the people, hitting them where it hurts most, in the belly. But the “great” economist Shri Manmohan Singh, who is touted as an advisor to the imperialist powers on economics, either refuses to see, or simply does not care. In the view of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar as well as vast masses of our working people, the real reason is that the government is only concerned about ensuring the highest rate of returns for the Indian and foreign monopolies, not about the long drawn faces of our hard working people, who have to see what next to cut from the household budget to make ends meet. This is why Pranab Mukherji has once again ruled out reducing the prices of petroleum products.
The government argues for price decontrol of petroleum products under the plea that oil companies cannot afford “subsidies” on petroleum products. Something sinister is hidden behind this argument. This is that the government is subsiding the petroleum costs – diesel, petrol, cooking gas, kerosene, CNG etc. There cannot be a bigger lie then this. The truth is that petroleum and products are taxed heavily — and taxes on petroleum products constitute the biggest source of revenue for the government. (see adjoining piece) This money robbed from the people is being deployed by the government to enrich the capitalist class.
Who is demanding decontrol of oil prices? This demand is coming from monopolies in the oil and gas sector in India, both those producing oil and gas, as well as those importing and refining. These players are both in the state sector, (ONGC, IOC, etc) as well as in the private sector (Reliance Petrochemicals, etc). They want to use their monopoly control over this sector to reap maximum profits at the cost of the well being of the people. The UPA government is working for the benefit of these monopolies.
Bharat Bandh has been a clear message to the UPA government that the people of India are upto its tricks, and will not tolerate passively as it launches one attack after another on the livelihood of the people.
People are fed up with the natak played out daily by the Congress leadership that it stands for the “aam admi”. This “aam admi” that the government is talking about is obviously one who does not eat food, travel in bus, use electricity or send children to school, or take the sick in the family to a hospital. He or she is one on the death bed as a result of starvation and malnutrition. Therefore it does not cost anything to the government to talk about this poorest of poor brethren of ours. However, we the working people of our country know well that this government is not interested in just any kind of “aam admi”. There is a special “aam admi” this government is serving — the likes of Ambanis, Tatas, Birlas, and so on.
People must step up their united struggle to bring to power a government which does actually take measures to reorient economy to ensure that peoples pressing needs are met. And one of the most pressing needs is to ensure that food and all other necessities for a human existence—education, sanitation, housing, health care, transport, electricity, etc is guaranteed to all the people.