September 10, 2023

AP: Protests against Price Rise and Unemployment

RESPONDING to the call given by the CPI(M) Central Committee to organise protests against price rise and unemployment, the Andhra Pradesh state committee of the CPI(M) held various protest activities from August 30 to September 4.

The Party State Committee implemented the campaign in a phased manner across various levels. Door-to-door distribution of pamphlets explaining the policies of both the central and state governments, focusing on issues related to the rising prices and unemployment took place on August 30-31, during which signatures were collected from residents. Similar efforts were also made at street corners and other central locations. The collected signatures, as well as memorandums, were then submitted to the respective ward or village secretariats on September 1-2.

One of the primary concerns addressed during this campaign is the escalating burden of electricity charges, attributed to factors such as True-up charges, Fuel and Power Purchase Adjustment charges (FPPAC), and various other hidden fees. As a result, consumers are being compelled to pay approximately two rupees more per unit (KW/H). This extra financial strain is disproportionately affecting lower and middle-class people within the lower and mid consumption brackets, forcing them to bear an additional 50 to 100 per cent of their energy expenses.

The True-up charges pertain to the periods 2014-19 and 2020-21, while the FPPAC is associated with the preceding months of this year. It is worth noting that residents living in rented accommodations are being burdened with the responsibility of covering power consumption incurred by previous tenants.

Given this backdrop, the state committee of the Party issued a call to people to protest against the state government by burning their electricity bills on September 1-2. In addition to this, the Party called for organising hall meetings and street corner meetings, with a particular focus on addressing the issue of unemployment, involving youth and students exclusively, on September 3.

The campaign culminated in dharnas, and sit-in protests held in front of tehsildar's offices on September 4.

People shared their grievances with the CPI(M) cadre who met them and signed the memorandum. Among these concerns, women's frustration was particularly focused on the escalating prices, especially regarding food and vegetables. They scorned the nominal Rs 200 reduction in the LPG cylinder cost, highlighting that during Modi's tenure, it had been increased by approximately Rs 800 and was now only reduced by a mere quarter of that amount.

In addition to the rising prices, the public found the increased electricity charges and the imposition of garbage fees to be onerous. The leaders and cadre of the CPI(M) actively participated in the campaign, spanning from local areas to the mandal level. Approximately 10 lakh pamphlets were distributed, and more than 50,000 posters were pasted. This campaign covered around 400 out of the 670 mandals in the state.