Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Wednesday demanded an independent inquiry into the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which has pointed out serious lapses and wrongdoings in the Rs. 52,000-crore farm debt waiver scheme.
Ms. Karat was talking to journalists at the party office here, before resuming her programme of “Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha,” which began from Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on March 4.
She said the CAG report indicated misappropriation of funds as well as denial of benefit to eligible beneficiaries, while farmers continued to reel under severe indebtedness. Sharing her feedback from various public meetings during the march so far, she said the failure of the Union as well as Punjab governments in providing affordable health and education facilities was a major contributor to rising indebtedness, especially among farmers and agricultural labour in Punjab. As per information, on an average, at least one person per household was afflicted by some serious ailment, which required “expensive” treatment, while the government was neither equipped nor inclined to respond to the alarming situation.
While it was time both Central and State governments responded in a mission mode to the situation created by spread of cancer, Ms. Karat said the issue required a wider perspective as it did not concern Punjab alone. Though the exact causes of cancer in Punjab were yet to be ascertained, the Centre had announced a plan to export the “green revolution” to the eastern States.
Ms. Karat said the aim of the party’s ongoing marches was to create awareness against the “pro-corporate” policies of the Congress and BJP-led alliances in the country.
While the recent budget reflected a deficit of nearly Rs. 5.2 lakh crore, the United Progressive Alliance government had doled out tax concessions worth Rs. 5.78 lakh crore to corporates. Similarly, the Adani group’s withdrawal of financial support to the Wharton India Economic forum, which rescinded its invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had shown that the BJP’s much touted “Gujarat Model” was another version for pro-corporate policies that promoted inequality and intolerance.
Atrocities against women
Ms. Karat was also critical of the government on its track record of atrocities against women and Dalits. While 68,000 rape cases were registered in the last three years, the conviction rate remained at a dismal 22 per cent.
She accused the Centre of heavy dilution of the Verma Commission report, while drafting the ordinance to deal with crime against women.