Biplob Ghosal/Shruti Saxena
The Left parties have started a five-day ‘dharna’ from Monday at Jantar Mantar against price rise. They are also demanding implementation of the Right to Food through universal public distribution system.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo member Brinda Karat spoke on various issues ranging from rising inflation, FDI in retail and Team Anna’s agitation.
Q: The country is reeling under the pressure of price rise and rising inflation. What is your message to the government?
Karat: This is an utter failure of the government as it has failed to take necessary steps to control prices. Black marketers, hoarders and speculators are having a free sway under the Congress government.
Q: What are your views on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail?
Karat: We are totally opposed to it. This government cannot provide jobs but wants to cause the ruination of crores of families who are dependent on retail. All over the world wherever companies like WalMart have come in to the economy of the developing countries it has resulted in the ruination of the small sector in retail sector and India is going to be no exception.
Taking together unemployment and price rise, we need a proactive government to ensure minimum food security to our people. The Left parties and my party have been saying that government has enough food stock to feed our people. When India has highest number of malnourished population in the world, what is the government doing? By exporting food grains to liquidate the stock, they are ensuring that subsidised food grains are imported. Who will it feed? The agri businesses and ultimately the foreign cattle; because this is for cattle feed, for foreign animals, yes that is what going to happen.
Q: Food grains are rotting as they lying in open and people are dying of hunger. Your comment on this.
Karat: It is criminal on the part of the government. It is criminal inaction and criminal action to export and the government has shown that it is so committed to pro-corporate reforms that it does not believe in fulfilling the minimum needs.
The entire food grains stock is supposed to be managed by the central government and the law that the central government is going to bring is equally based on the progenal poverty aspect of the Planning Commission which has excluded large sections of the poor.
Q: Your message to the Planning Commission…
Karat: Wind up your ‘bori bistar’ (bags) because all you are doing is helping the government.
Q: What’s your take on Team Anna’s movement?
Karat: I don’t know… today they say their fast is on one issue and tomorrow it’s another issue. As far as my party is concerned, we are for a Lokpal which has an independent investigating agency. The Congress has betrayed the country because it has refused to free its stranglehold over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Unless that is done you cannot implement the Prevention of Corruption Act. Every day they (Team Anna) have a different slogan.
Q: Do you support Anna Hazare?
Karat: I am with Left party’s fight against corruption, which has its own agenda which is for a Lokpal Bill with an independent investigating agency. On many issues our demands coincide and on many issues we have a different take.