Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat has demanded that the Centre deploy more forces in West Bengal to check violence by the Maoists and restore peace in the affected areas.

Referring to the killing of party cadres by the Maoists, he said because the CPI(M) government was fighting the Maoists politically and opposing the extremists’ policies, its leaders and cadre were being attacked . In the last four months, the party lost 64 activists in naxal violence in West Bengal, particularly in the West Midnapore area bordering Jharkhand .

`Control prices’

Mr. Karat, who was here on Tuesday to participate in the four-day 25th Agriculture Workers’ Union State conference, demanded that the Centre take steps to control the prices of essential commodities and foodgrains in view of the prevailing drought conditions. The government should strengthen the Public Distribution System and impose ban on futures trading of foodgrains to prevent shortages in rice and other essential commodities.

He said the UPA government which had promised to enact a legislation on Food Security before the elections, was now proposing to supply 25 kg of rice to each BPL family per month at Rs. 3 a kg. The scheme would, however, not benefit the poor as the government was already supplying 35 kg of rice to each BPL family at Rs. 2 a kg.

“In the light of drought and fall in production of foodgrains, there will be shortage of rice. We anticipate shortage in rice production to the tune of about 10 million tonnes because of the poor rainfall,” he said. The government should, therefore, stop maintaining food stocks and take measures to supply foodgrains and pulses at reasonable prices.