Members of the local units of the four Leftist political parties jointly took out a protest march at various places in Punjab, demanding a fair and independent probe into the alleged embezzlement in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and implementation of the Swaminathan Committee recommendations on agriculture as the key demands.
The workers — belonging to the CPI, the CPI (M), CPM, Punjab, and the CPI (ML) Liberation — alleged that the state government was patronising the drug mafia in the state.
Their other demands included a plot each for the homeless poor of the rural and urban areas, toilets to be provided to each house in the village and arrangements be made to drain out the dirty water of the villages. The protesters have also decided to take part in a nation-wide strike by the Leftist parties on September 2.
In Ludhiana, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPM Punjab staged a protest outside the mini-secretariat, opposing the ruling government’s stance on the IPL row and Vyapam scandal. They alleged that the government had failed to protect workers’ rights and the land acquisition bill is in discussion without even seeking the consent of the all parties concerned.
Moreover, the privatisation of major sectors is also not good news for the common man as it is the corporate sector which would be reaping maximum benefits out of it; besides, there is no check on inflation, they said.
In Moga, party activists demanded scrapping of the Punjab Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Act, 2014. The protesters raised antigovernment slogans and warned that if the Punjab government failed to provide basic facilities to poor farmers, labourers and small traders, the left parties would start a statewide agitation against the policies of the government across the state soon.
In Bathinda, the left parties raised farmer and youth issues. The leaders of these parties alleged that the central government seemed to be heading towards re-promulgating the land acquisition ordinance for the fourth time which clearly indicated the eagerness of the BJP-led NDA government to provide the corporate a chance to acquire the land against the wish of landowners.
The protesters want pension to be raised to Rs 3,000 a month, cheap ration distributed regularly, and wages for unskilled labour fixed at Rs 15,000 a month.