CPI-ML New Democracy




Today lockdown imposed by the Central Govt. has completed 54 days. Central govt. is expected to extend this.

The lockdown imposed to check the spread of Coronavirus has been an all-round failure. While bringing all round hardships to the working people, it failed in its principal declared objective i.e. of checking the spread of the Virus. Till yesterday India had 90,615 confirmed Corona positive cases overtaking China in the number of cases, and 2,874 reported deaths. This is despite low level of testing and lower level of recording of deaths. There has been a controversy that number of deaths announced by Delhi Govt. are far less than those announced by the hospitals in Delhi. Situation in other states may also be similar and hence needs to be probed. These do not take into account the deaths of migrant workers through accidents/exhaustion/starvation etc. These also do not take into account tens of thousands who have died due to other diseases for lack of treatment as they either could not reach the hospital/doctor or did not receive treatment. These also do not take into account the number of deaths of people with Covid like symptoms but who died before reaching hospitals.

Govt.’s approach in tackling the Corona epidemic has been a total failure. It must be held accountable.

Total disregard of the people has resulted in high casualties in famines and due to starvation and in the period of epidemics since the time of colonial rule in India. Present rulers continue the same attitude towards the people.

Lockdown was bound to be a failure as it was not imposed for medical reasons. Political designs took precedence over medical advice in tackling the pandemic. Lockdown can be logical only if there is a sudden surge in community spread and that too to afford time for ramping up the medical facilities. But the Govt. has been in denial of community spread. Having failed to check its spread in the initial period by testing and compulsory quarantine of those coming from abroad, this countrywide lockdown was imposed without any thought except to create panic, for other purposes. It was the harshest lockdown on such a vast scale in the world. It was imposed even where there was no single case. It was imposed without making any arrangements for its proper implementation. It was imposed against the advice of the epidemiologists. There was no attempt to test at a large scale to check the spread through “test, isolate and treat”.

One good purpose to which this ill-advised lockdown could be used was for improving health care services. Govt. did not do it. In fact it had no plans to do it. Private sector accounting for 80% of facilities and employing 80% of doctors was not brought into service. The time was wasted for showing that Govt. cared while its actions cried loud it did not.

On the other hand, miseries were heaped on the toiling people. Inter-state migrant workers, unorganized workers, rural poor, fishermen and almost all sections were tortured to make them aware of the danger of Corona. While it was imperative to take people’s cooperation, making them conscious of the danger, giving them scientific knowledge on the spread and need of precautions, people were simply treated as enemies against whom ‘war’ was launched. Even those cooperating with the suffering people were prosecuted.

Govt. had other designs. It sought to use the Corona pandemic. It unleashed amassive wave of repression on the people showing that as the only way. The RSS-BJP govt. also sought to utilize this situation as an opportunity to fulfill its designs. Under the Covid cover it has suppressed all protests and launched a witch-hunt of activists engaged in anti-CAA protests, particularly Muslim youth, students and intellectuals. Arrests under Bhima Koregaon case were continued.

Under pressure to do something for the poor, especially on the plight of migrant workers that shook the people but not the Govt., Modi Govt. has launched the biggest attempt to advance implementation of anti-people economic policies though with the help of corporate controlled media it has given it the name of relief package and kowtowing to imperialist powers is being done in the name of “atmnirbhar bharat”. It is rolling out the red carpet for Capital from western imperialist countries. It has begun an exercise of attacking workers and peasants. Labour laws are being done away with and public sector assets including public land are being given to corporate. Contract farming is being promoted and penetration of corporate, mainly foreign capital, is being increased and laws are being framed for that. Land acquisition law is being attacked to make robbing peasants of their land easier. The whole relief package is full of attacks on the people and relief to corporate and reactionaries. People are being misled by promises which are to be implemented over the years and in the process further indebting them. No relief is provided at present. On the other hand even CAMPA funds are being diverted. SC & ST allocations and allocations for people’s welfare are being slashed.

The measures Modi govt. is forcing on the people need to be resisted. They are sharp intensification of the attacks on the people.

Modi govt. is giving relaxations in lockdown but in a manner which is against the interests of the toiling people. Lockdown must not be extended any further. It must be lifted now.

The Govt. has demonstrated its incompetence, inability and most of all unwillingness to tackle Corona epidemic in India. Overwhelming majority of the people are disillusioned with Govt. on this score. Hence the people themselves must take measures to safeguard themselves from Corona epidemic as well as from the present govts. which are its allies.

People must use mask. They must maintain physical distance while going out or to the market place or in the work place or while working in the field. While a campaign must be built for the Govt. to provide for them, people must be educated on their need and practice. Advice of cleaning hands and not touching face should be adhered to.

Care should be taken to safeguard vulnerable sections particularly elderly who are suffering from other illnesses. If there is anybody with Corona like symptoms they should be taken promptly to the hospitals.

Where ever cases are being reported, those places need to be focused on for extensive testing, isolation and treatment.

While following this advice, working people should be mobilized to demand from the govt. to implement the following demands. People should be mobilized and protests may be spread out. We should educate the people that the govt. attempt to prevent assembly is to force upon them policies against their interest and not to fight Corona, that is why there is continuation of selective lockdown.

People must come out to demand and build a broad-based and determined struggle. We must realize that ruling classes have not yet been shaken enough to come out of their anti-people policy framework even temporarily. RSS-BJP is pursuing, rather has speeded up its fascist agenda and pro-corporate policies. Opposition parties too are not challenging the policy framework, while opposing certain measures. They have not even abandoned their sectarianism in mobilizing the people to fight govt. attacks. For them Corona is still pursuing more of the same.

Immediate arrangement be made for totally free travel for inter-state migrant workers, with food and other facilities provided, and with space for physical distancing. Full payment of wages and other dues, provision of food and shelter be ensured. Transportshould be restored and govt. should extend financial help for implementing physical distancing in transport services.

Industries are going to run with less workers and longer hours of work while the need is shorter hours of work on full wages to employ more workers. No deduction in govt. employees’ or PSE workers’ salaries. No change in labour laws and withdrawal of all Ordinances on Labour law changes and instituting 12 hours per day work.

All toiling people should be provided Rs. 10,000/- a month for six months i.e. up to October 2020 or till full production is restored. This will not only help them to tide over this period, it will be helpful in spurring demand.

Immediate procurement of agricultural produce with immediate payment for all crops at remunerative prices. Limits of days in MNREGA should be scrapped and full employment should be provided at minimum wages to all those coming to take it. With a large number of workers returning to villages, govt. lands, surplus lands and river bed lands should be allotted. Struggle against rural backwardness and for land and development of every region has come on the agenda.

Agitate for universal free quality health care- preventive and curative. Increase allocation on health care to five percent of Budget. Provide PPEs& risk allowanceto health workers, regularize of all health care staff and make ASHA workers govt. employees. Requisition all private health care facilities in tackling Corona pandemic, stop harassing them and open all Govt. hospitals taking requisite precautions. Increase budget on science and stop harassing scientists & imposition of obscurantist agenda on them.

All these measures are very much possible if there is a political will. Govt.’s attempts to play with relief package should be opposed and 10% of GDP must be spent to provide immediate relief to the people. Not on long term plans, not as loans, and NO to pro-imperialist pro-corporate changes in land and labour laws.

To meet these expenses, resources can be raised by re-introducing wealth tax, increasing inheritance tax, increasing income tax on people earning more than 1 crore annually in graded manner, bringing back black money stashed abroad and recovery of NPAs from the assets of promoters and defaulters.

Sharp reduction in prices of diesel and petrol to the tune of Rs. 22 per litre as being done for aviation fuel, abolition of indirect taxes to make things cheaper for the people, and large-scale expansion of production mainly of the items of public use, is needed.

Key to overcoming economic decline is increasing purchasing power of the people both by augmenting their income as well making things cheaper.

Open Universities and Colleges.

Democratic rights be restored and all cases against anti-CAA protesters and Bhima Koregaon case be dropped.

Govts. will not implement these measures. A very powerful movement has to be built to force these on agenda.

Unspeakable hardships faced by the people during the Lockdown and the Govt.’s total disregard of the people have created objective situations for intervention of pro-struggle forces to mobilize people into movement. Many issues long propagated by revolutionary forces are being accepted by the people. However, practical and effective steps have to be taken to muster forces and establish a growing trend of movement. Full flexibility and even fuller initiative is required to develop this struggle and turn it into a challenge to the govt. and policies of ruling classes. This is not and cannot be easy and hence a firm, imaginative, consistent and ambitious approach and practice in furtherance of these objectives is required. There is a need to mobilize all possible forces in the immediate struggle through joint action but with clear recognition of their limitations and its effect on the movement.

In summary, the whole party should gear up to take up these tasks.

Central Committee, CPI(ML)-New Democracy

May 17, 2020