TELANGANA: Abolish Corporate Donations to Political Parties

M Venugopala Rao

A STATE-level convention was 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 at Baghlingampally in Hyderabad on July 15.

Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, was the chief guest. He demanded the government of India to take measures for abolishing the system of corporate donations to political parties.  He criticised that whatever electoral reforms were brought about after the formation of the Modi government at the centre, they were all in the nature of benefiting the BJP and Congress only.  The Modi government had removed the condition imposing an upper limit of seven percent of their profits for the corporate entities for giving donations to political parties. The government had also brought about changes in the electoral laws opening floodgates for the corporate houses to donate funds to political parties without any limit, with no need even to reveal to which party they donated and how much, Yechury criticized.  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 kind of allegations coming against malfunctioning of electronic voting machines, Sitaram Yechury reiterated that printing machines should be attached to the EVMs to provide an opportunity to know to which party the vote was cast. He also asserted that representation to political parties should be provided in the government proportionate to the votes they got. As and when Bahujana Left Front comes to power in the country, such electoral reforms would be brought about, Yechury promised.

Yechury explained that attacks on the people in the socio-economic fields and communal attacks increased after the advent of the Modi government and that recent developments made it clear that the Supreme Court, election commission, higher educational bodies and other institutions were not spared.  A conspiracy is being hatched to change history of the country.  In the circumstances, the need for changing the government in the country was imperative, Sitaram Yechury asserted. The minimum support price announced by the centre recently to farm produce was less than the expenditure being incurred by the farmers for cultivation, he said. Though agitations of farmers have been going on in all the states, demanding waiving of dues of farm loans, in order to prevent suicides of farmers, the government was unresponsive, but dues of loans given to the managements of the corporate houses to the tune of Rs.3.50 lakh crore were written off, Yechury criticized. 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 repaying the dues of loans they had taken from the banks and financial institutions. Even if half of the 11 lakh crore Rupees  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 given 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. With privatisation, education and medical facilities were not within the reach of the common people, he said.  In order to provide such facilities to the people, politics with alternative policies are needed.  The ongoing discussion whether Modi or Rahul Gandhi would be the next prime minister was irrelevant and what was important to the country were policies, not leaders, he said.  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 had met the present election commissioner recently and underlined the need for acting in a way befitting the election commission to safeguard its independence. In this connection, he referred to the issue of the judges of the Supreme Court. The BJP government had closed down the UGC, which was guiding universities in the country, and decided to set up another institution with policies favourable to that party, he said. A conspiracy was being hatched to transform the country as desired by the RSS, and as a part and parcel of it, the Modi government was thinking of changing the constitution, Yechury warned.  Puranas are being used to drive the people towards irrational and unscientific beliefs. A conspiracy has been going on to divide the country on the lines of caste and religion and conflicts among the people were being ignited for selfish political ends, Yechury cautioned.

Ninety percent of the people in the country continued to be subject to socio-economic exploitation. Social justice was a matter of right, not of sympathy. Agitations were conducted because Telangana was backward in all fields, Yechury said and pointed out that there has been no change in the lives of the people even after 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, Yechury asserted.  The slogan of Lal-Neel unity had shown its impact throughout the county, he said.  Yechury said he even did not expect that the BLF would show such an impact.

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 ten thousand 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 had pointed out that there was no thinking to form a separate 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 T-MASS.  Chairman of T-MASS Kancha Ilaiah demanded the government to sanction a loan of 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, as he did in the case of Left parties in Nepal.

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.          

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