While rejecting the measures announced by the Cabinet Committee on Prices to check rising food prices as "absolutely inadequate" on Tuesday, the CPM continues to distance itself from the Congress party. The party has resolved that it will not enter into any alliance with the Congress, even in the states.
Asked to react to the decisions announced by the CCP on Monday, Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat told Hindustan Times: "These are completely and absolutely inadequate. Unless they address the issues we have raised prices are not going to come down." The CCP had on Monday cut down import duty on edible oils and banned non-basmati rice exports.
The CPM however has demanded banning future trading on agricultural items, restoring cuts made in the allocations of food grains to the states for the Public Distribution System (PDS). It also wants the government to act against hoarders and at the same time rationalise duties on petrol and diesel. About half the money that consumers pay for petrol or diesel goes to the government coffers as duties. Speaking on the import duty cuts on edible oil, Karat asked: "What is the guarantee that these will be passed on to the consumer?" The CPM has asked to government to accede to its demands by April 15 or face protests.
The political resolution adopted at the 19th party congress, that sets the political agenda and stance of the CPM for the next three years, has resolved: "The party will not enter into any alliance or united front with the Congress." CPM Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai said the resolution also bars the CPM from entering into alliances with the Congress in the states, which it had done in the past.
The resolution says that the CPM will continue to fight the BJP at all costs. Of course, it has also resolved to take steps to increase its own strength. The political organisational report prepared by CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat has highlighted that the drop out rate in the party cadres is high. At 16 per cent, it is the highest in Tamil Nadu - ironically, the state where the present party congress is being held. "There is no substantial breakthrough in increasing party membership in the states where we are weak," Pillai admitted.