Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said here on Friday that it was important the Left Democratic Front (LDF) got the mandate for another five years to enable it to continue its pro-people measures.
Addressing a Meet-the-Press programme at the Ernakulam Press Club, Mr. Karat said the Assembly elections in West Bengal and Kerala were an opportunity to present the record of the two Left Front governments and to show how different they were from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and other State governments run by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
He said the people of Kerala would judge who was responsible for the price rise and the record of the LDF government in tackling it and providing relief to the common man. Mr. Karat said the country had recorded the highest rate of food inflation under the UPA regime. He noted that petrol prices were hiked seven times since deregulation in June 2010.
Explaining that the UPA and the United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala believed in restricting the public distribution system instead of expanding it to wider sections, Mr. Karat said even the UDF manifesto promised to provide rice at Re. 1 a kg only to those belonging to the below poverty line (BPL) category. He said the LDF government was successful in expanding the public distribution system during its rule.
Reacting to the Supreme Court's decision to stay the implementation of the Government Order extending its Rs. 2-a-kilo scheme to all ration card holders, Mr. Karat said the government was only implementing the extended scheme and it had started even before the announcement of the model code of conduct.
He contested Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony's statement that the government had not cooperated with the Centre in implementing various projects in the State. Mr. Karat reminded the senior Congress leader that the Union government had not given its green signal for the Kochi Metro Rail project despite the State government allocating Rs. 150 crore for carrying out the preparatory work.
Mr. Karat said the Employment Guarantee Act did not provide relief to the farmers and the Left parties had fought vigorously for giving shape to the rural employment scheme in this form. He said the various free trade agreements signed by India were against the interests of the farmers.
Commenting on the Supreme Court verdict rejecting Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan's writ petition challenging the Governor's order granting a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the SNC-Lavalin case, Mr. Karat said it would have been better if the Supreme Court had given its judgment on a constitutional point of law (as to whether the Governor can grant permission for a CBI probe against the Cabinet decision).
Mr. Karat made it clear that the decision on who would become the next Chief Minister in Kerala would be taken after the elections. He said the party had followed a similar process in the Assembly elections held in 2006. Referring to the allegations raised against P. Sasi, former CPI (M) Kannur district secretary, Mr. Karat said the party had a mechanism to probe complaints of sexual harassment. He said the process was going on and the party views it very seriously.
Referring to the Union government's decision to provide tax exemption to the International Cricket Council for the World Cup, Mr. Karat said that the party was against granting such blanket exemption.