GENERAL SECRETARY of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Prakash Karat today said that any formal decision on the issue of the proposed corporatisation of defence factories would be taken only after consultations with the trade unions associated with the party.
Talking to newsmen at the party office here he parried all questions related to the Kelkar Committee and the party’s stand on the committee’s report recommending corporatisation of all defence factories in the country. Karat was in the city to address a public meeting.
Replying to a query on the contentious issue, Karat said, “Kelkar Committee has recommended corporatisation and not privatisation of defence factories. There is a difference between the two.”
Karat minced no words in criticising the role of the Election Commission (EC) in the recently held elections to the State Assembly in West Bengal. In particular, he criticised the EC’s decision debarring the state police and deploying Central forces for election duties.
He said the law and order was a state subject and, therefore, how could the state police be excluded from the election duty.
Expressing his concern at the “unbridled” powers of the EC, Karat said, “We have requested all political parties to bring changes in the regulations of the EC so that some control can be put in place on its unbridled powers.”
He also recommended a ban on EC members contesting any election or joining any political party post-retirement.
Training his guns on the UPA government for acquisition of land to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZ), Karat said, though the land of farmers was being acquired all over the country only 25 per cent of it was being utilised for setting up industries and the rest was being used for real state business. Therefore, the entire exercise for SEZs was turning out to be a big scam favouring real state agents,” Karat said. He said the UPA government had approved 150 SEZs all over the country and 15 to 20,000 acres of land was being allotted for the purpose.
The UPA government was once again at the receiving end of the CPI(M) general secretary for the rising inflation. “The UPA government has increased the price of petro products five times in the past two years. This has resulted in the increase of prices of all essential commodities,” he said. He also recommended reduction in the tax levied on petrol and diesel to bring down their prices and check inflation.
The CPI(M) general secretary also targeted the former NDA government for starting ‘future trading’ in the country, which had led to the increase in prices of all essential commodities. “All parties including the Congress and its leader Sonia Gandhi are unanimous on the issue of abolition of ‘future trading’ but any concrete decision in this regard is yet to be taken,” Karat said.
He also criticised the foreign policy of the UPA government specially the nuclear deal with the USA. “Foreign policy of the UPA government is under our scanner,” he said adding, “we have some reservations on the nuclear deal and it seems after its formal approval India would have to toe the US line on matters of foreign policy”.
He said India’s vote on the Iran issue was an example of the growing US influence on India’s foreign policy. On the contentious issue of women’s reservation bill, Karat said, “CPI(M) is in favour of the bill and now it depends on other political parties to come out with their stand on the issue.”
In Ballia, Karat criticised the Congress-led Central government for its failure on all fronts and its wrong policies on agriculture, labour, irrigation, disinvestments as well as foreign policy.
Karat was unhappy with the government for not increasing investment in the agricultural sector. Instead, it was encouraging foreign import of agricultural produces. He stated that the government had imported 33 lakh tonnes of wheat even though the country was self-reliant on this front since 1960.