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CPM vows to rework on 123
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat addresses mediapersons in New Delhi on Monday.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat addresses mediapersons in New Delhi on Monday. — AFP

New Delhi, March 16
Assuming credit for the insulation of India’s economy in the face of global financial crisis, the CPM today sounded the poll bugle by slamming the five-year UPA rule as “nakedly pro-rich” in policy and pursuit.

“At no time since Independence has there been such a growing divide between the super rich and the poor. The Manmohan Singh government adopted policies blatantly pro-rich by refusing to impose long-term capital gains tax, wealth or inheritance tax and refusing to mop up black money,” party general secretary Prakash Karat today said, releasing the party manifesto for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The 31-page document accuses the Congress-led UPA of “biggest betrayal” on the foreign policy front and vows to rework the 123 Agreement with the US to remove harmful clauses. “The UPA turned its back on the legacy of NAM. We will restore an independent foreign policy if voted to power,” Karat said, with the manifesto promising to scrap strategic alliance with the US and ensure “defence secularism.”

CPM promises…

l To scrap military collaboration with the US
l Restore independence of foreign policy, return to NAM
l Reverse neo-liberal policies, put people before profit
l Change constitution to make legislative sanction must for international treaties
l Enact law to annul SC judgment prohibiting strikes
l Extend OBC reservation to private sector
l Enact Women’s Reservation Bill (manifesto blames SP for stalling of bill)

Seeking to call the bluff of the UPA on the nuke deal issue, the CPM said 10,000 MW of nuclear reactors to be imported from the US would cost India Rs 28,000 crore. “How cheap would such electricity be, we can imagine,” Karat added.

Designed to lure the voters with an alternative set of economic, foreign and social policies, the manifesto takes on the Congress and the BJP separately. It attacks its erstwhile partner on price rise, neo-liberal policies, compromised foreign policy and terrorism, and the BJP on the issue of communalism and recent attacks on minorities in Kandhamal and Karnataka.

Broadly, the CPM swears to restore financial regulations by halting the disinvestment of profitable public firms, cutting custom and excise duty on oil products, prohibiting FDI in retail sector, upping the supply of essential commodities in the PDS and increasing the annual plan expenditure to 10 per cent of the GDP.

Karat today said the CPM would not allow dilution of government stake in banks and other financial institutions and cited how it countered the Congress’ move of increasing FDI limits in insurance and banking sectors. The party manifesto talks of scrapping the Banking Regulation Bill and proposes guidelines to prevent entry of foreign firms into the domestic market besides protecting pension funds from being channeled into stock markets.

To further embarrass the government, the CPM today dared it to ask Swiss authorities for details of illegal Indian funds parked in their banks. “Let the Central Board of Direct Taxes list out tax evaders and the government demand details from Swiss authorities. The US, UK and EU have done that,” Karat said, slamming the UPA for failure to counter communalism.

“It could never even ban the Bajrang Dal or implement the Sri Krishna Report in Gujarat and Maharashtra,” the CPM said, reminding the nation of its pro-people role. “Had it not been for us, NREGA and Tribal Forest Rights Act would not have been there,” the CPM claimed.

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