COMING down heavily upon the Modi government for relaxing corporate funding to political parties, Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, demanded the abolition of corporate donations to political parties in the country. Attending the state-level convention organised by the Bahujana Left Front (BLF) on the “Need for Electoral Reforms and Bahujana Government in Telangana – Role of the Voter” at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram in Hyderabad, on July 15, he said that the electoral reforms brought about after 2014 only benefitted corporate funded parties like the BJP and the Congress.
BJP-led central government had relaxed the upper limit of corporate funding, 7.5 percent of the firm’s profit, thus opening the floodgates for the corporate houses to donate funds to political parties without any limit. There is no need to even reveal to which party they had donated and how much. He reiterated that corporate houses should give funds directly to the election commission only and the same should be provided to all the political parties in the form of material for electoral campaign in proportion to the votes they got.
Referring to the allegations against malfunctioning of electronic voting machines, Yechury said that printing machines should be attached to the EVMs for the voter to get a hard copy showing which party his vote was cast to. He also asserted that political parties should be given a representation in the government proportionate to the votes they receive. When the Bahujana Left Front comes to power in the country, such electoral reforms would be made, he promised.
Yechury explained that attacks on the people belonging to low socio-economic backgrounds, and communal attacks, increased after the advent of the Modi government and the recent developments make it clear that the Supreme Court, election commission, higher educational bodies and other institutions were not spared. A conspiracy is being hatched to change the history of the country and it has become imperative to change the government, Yechury added.
The minimum support price announced recently by the centre to farm produce was less than the expenditure made by the farmers for cultivation, he said. Despite the ongoing agitations of farmers demanding farm loan waivers to prevent farmer suicides, the government has chosen to be unresponsive. On the other hand, corporate loans to the tune of Rs 3.50 lakh crore have been written off, Yechury lamented. He found fault with the government for its inaction when some of the tycoons of the corporate sector and big leaders were leaving the country, without paying the dues. Even if half of the Rs 11 lakh crore given as loans to the big capitalists was recovered, the government itself could set up many companies and provide employment to lakhs of people, Yechury said.
Questioning the failures of the Modi government in fulfilling the promises made during the elections in 2014, Yechury demanded the prime minister to reveal how many jobs were created in the country during the last four years against the promise of creating two crore jobs per annum. Due to privatisation, education and medical facilities are not within the reach of the common people. In order to provide such facilities to the people, politics with alternative policies are needed, he said.
Calling the ongoing discussion of whether Modi or Rahul Gandhi would be the next prime minister as irrelevant, he said that what is important to the country are policies, not leaders. In the name of protection of cow, attacks on Muslims and dalits have been going on. Sexual attacks on women and children also have been continuing. Yechury lashed out at the leadership of the BJP for not taking any action against one of its MLAs in Uttar Pradesh against whom charge sheet was filed in a case of sexual assault.
Yechury said political interference even in independent and constitutional bodies has been increasing and pointed out that some of the former election commissioners have met the election commissioner recently and underlined the need for acting in a manner befitting to safeguard the independence of the election commission. A conspiracy is being hatched to transform the country as desired by the RSS, and as a part and parcel of it, the Modi government is thinking of changing the constitution, he warned. Puranas are being used to drive the people towards irrational and unscientific beliefs. Attempts are going on to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion and conflicts are being ignited for selfish political ends, he cautioned.
Ninety percent of the people in the country continued to be subject to socio-economic exploitation. Social justice is a matter of right, not sympathy. Agitations are rising because Telangana is backward in all fields, Yechury said and pointed out that there has been no change in the lives of the people even after the formation of the state of Telangana. SCs, STs, BCs and minorities continue to be backward. Political change would be possible through BLF, as a result of which there would be scope for development of backward classes, he asserted. The slogan of Lal-Neel unity had shown its impact throughout the county, he said.
Tammineni Veerabhadram, secretary of the state committee of the CPI(M) and convener of BLF, promised that if BLF came to power, it would start 10,000 Bahujan food centres to provide breakfast for Rs 3 and lunch for Rs 5 covering 14,000 villages in Telangana. Explaining that the scheme could be implemented with a sum of Rs 11,000 crore per annum, he demanded the government to implement the same. Veerabhadram announced that a village would be selected to implement the scheme practically and show that the scheme could be implemented. It was not a scheme of compassion, but of class struggle and a scheme for igniting enlightenment among the people, he said.
Explaining the efforts being made to unite all the Red Flags in Telangana, Veerabhadram reminded that in the meeting of the Left parties held recently, all of them are with the Left Front. As an alternative to the BJP at the centre, and the TRS and Congress in Telangana, efforts would be made to bring all other parties together, Veerabhadram said. He also announced that the BLF would implement the policies framed by the Telangana Mass and Social Organisations (T-Mas). Chairman of T-Mas Kancha Ilaiah demanded the government to sanction a loan of Rs 1 Lakh each to landless agricultural workers. He found fault with the TRS government for not rendering any help to tenant farmers who have been actually doing cultivation, while it was providing lakhs of rupees to landlords in the name of Rythu Bandhu scheme. So far no party had given more than 39 seats to the BCs to contest in elections.
Welcoming the announcement of the BLF that it would give 65 seats to the BCs and that a BC would be made chief minister, Ilaiah said, with the formation of BLF, a new atmosphere was created in the state. People’s singer Gaddar said he was thinking of contesting in the coming elections and would enroll himself as a voter for the first time. Equality would be ensured, if Neel flag joined hands with Red flag, Gaddar said and requested Yechury to unite the Left parties in the country.
Chairman of BLF Nalla Surya Prakash presided over the meeting. Central Committee member of the CPI(M), Ch Seetaramulu, and several leaders of the BLF participated in the convention. Earlier, leaders garlanded the portraits of Ambedkar, Karl Marx, Jyotiba Phule and Savitribhai Phule. BLF leaders and workers warmly welcomed Sitaram Yechury at the airport on his arrival and took out a rally with motor vehicles to Sundarayya Vignanan Kendram where women welcomed him with bonalu and batukammas.