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CPI(M) panel sets out contours of CMP

Tuesday 18 May 2004

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MAY 18. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has proposed a five-pronged policy orientation for the new government - restoring the secular character of the state and its institutions, following an independent foreign policy, economic policies oriented towards giving relief to the common people, increased spending on the social sector and allocation of sufficient resources to the States.

Setting out the policy direction, the CPI(M) central committee said that all the Left parties would play an "independent role" to assert the interests of the working class, protect secularism and oppose "imperialist penetration" in society.

The CPIM) said the mandate was against the policies of liberalisation and privatisation. The fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance lost four per cent of the votes compared to the 1999 tally "shows the extent of erosion of popular support." It called upon all secular and democratic forces to remain vigilant as the "threat posed by the communal forces continues to exist."

The committee said it had noted the appeal to the CPI(M) and the CPI by a large number of intellectuals and Left sympathisers to join the new Government and assured them that the party would discharge its responsibilities to ensure that under the new government the democratic and secular forces were strengthened and "in no way would the communal forces be permitted to stage a comeback." It authorised the party politburo to consider the draft proposals for a common minimum programme (CMP) which would shortly be submitted to the CPI(M) by the senior Congress leader, Manmohan Singh.

The committee outlined the CMP’s salient features in its five-point policy direction. It gave priority to weeding out communal penetration in the institutions of the state, educational, research and cultural bodies. "Restoring the secular character of the state and its institutions should be priority." It proposed a foreign policy consistent with the country’s traditional stance of non-alignment. "The policy should promote multi-polarity and good relations with our neighbours and promote dialogue with Pakistan."

On the economic front, it wanted policies to generate employment, give priority to agriculture and ensure the uplift of the rural poor. Opposing the privatisation of profitable public sector units, it wanted the "streamlining" of the PSUs. The public distribution system should be reoriented by bringing under its ambit the large section of the population excluded by the previous government. The spheres in the social sector where spending should be increased are: education, health, welfare of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and women. The Women’s Reservation Bill must be taken up for adoption and repressive anti-worker and anti-poor laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act scrapped.

On Centre-State relations, the committee suggested lower interest rates for loans and a substantial debt relief. The allocation of resources by the Centre to the States also needed a closer look.

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, Tuesday, May 18, 2004.

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