Aiming to intensify political pressure on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance on the issue of price rise, 13 political parties in the non-UPA, non-National Democratic Alliance camp have decided to work closely and contemplate collective action.
Seventy-two hours before both Houses of Parliament resume sittings for the second part of the Budget session on April 15, the parties — the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the All-India Forward Bloc, the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Biju Janata Dal, the Indian National Lok Dal, the Janata Dal (Secular), the Lok Jan Shakti Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party and the Telugu Desam Party — will meet in Parliament House to firm up a strategy. Efforts to rope in the Bahujan Samaj Party are under way.
In a move to provide impetus to the anti-price rise stir, CPI(M) general-secretary Prakash Karat and his CPI counterpart, A.B. Bardhan, sent invitations to leaders of these political parties for April 12, signalling the first coordinated effort by these parties outside the chambers.
Having remained in touch with each other over the past few weeks, the Left leaders decided to move forward the piece on the political chessboard and force the government to take back its Budget proposal of a hike in the customs duty on crude oil and raising excise duties on petrol and diesel.
With the CPI(M) already deciding to move cut motion when the Finance Bill is taken up for consideration and passage in the second part of the Budget session, a similar strategy by other political parties is also on the cards.
Another move being contemplated is to prepare the ground for a joint call and a coordinated action like a “one-day general strike” to send a clear message of solidarity among various parties on price rise.
In an unprecedented action, Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha staged a walk-out during the budget speech of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee after he announced the proposal to increase duties on crude oil, petrol and diesel.
Meanwhile, the four Left parties are geared for a countrywide “jail bharo” campaign against price rise on Thursday. In the capital, Mr. Karat, Mr. Bardhan and the AIFB's Debabrata Biswas will lead the march from Parliament Street and court arrest.
The protest across several cities and towns includes picketing of Central government offices.