Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury on Sunday demanded that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government fix Ministry-wise targets for cutting down non-Plan expenditure instead of piecemeal austerity announcements so that resources thus saved can be utilised for mitigating woes of the drought affected people.

Mr. Yechury, who arrived on two-day visit to the State, said drought situation in the country was still serious and farmers continued to commit suicide despite loan waiver. There had been no rice cultivation on six million acres of land. The drought also impacted negatively on the price situation, he told reporters here.

The CPI(M) Polit Bureau member demanded a ban on futures trading of essential commodities. Essential commodities must be distributed through public distribution system (PDS) to stabilise the prices. Unless these two measures were adopted, people would get no relief from soaring prices.

People’s movement

On building up a movement by his party to mount pressure on the government on these issues, Mr. Yechury said that there would be a major people’s movement right after the festival season. Efforts were on to unite all the parties, including those with whom the Left parties did not have an electoral alliance in the last Lok Sabha polls, to build a broader movement to pressure the government to adopt alternative pro-people policies.

Later delivering the fifth Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Annual Lecture on the theme “Present Global Recession and its Impact on Indian Society,” Mr Yechury called for India converting the global recession into opportunity by placing people before profits and not the other way round.

“If profits were re-employed into enlarging productive capacities, then through the consequent employment generation, the purchasing power of the people will grow leading to larger aggregate demand, which, in turn, would give a further impetus to industrialisation and growth of the real economy,” he said.

Mr. Yechury pointed out that instead of bailing out the borrowers, the government was giving bailout packages to lenders and the corporate sector. “Bailout packages for the corporates, however necessary, cannot go unaccompanied by huge doses of public investments that will generate both employment and importantly domestic demand. It is the latter that will provide the much required stimulus to the economy. The way of tackling the present crisis must be based on putting people before profits and not the other way round.”

‘Develop infrastructure’

The Rajya Sabha MP said Rs.4.28 lakh crore, which the government had forgone as tax, could have been used to properly develop or build infrastructure, generate jobs, give purchasing power to people, which, in turn, would generate further demand for the output and therefore, create more jobs. This would have been the cycle of stimulus. “The government chose not to do that. This once again proves that irrespective of its aam aadmi rhetoric, the heart of the government is with the rich, placing profits before people,” he said.

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