General secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) Prakash Karat on Monday called upon the Union government to make available rice at Rs.2 a kg to all families in the country, irrespective of whether they are in the above poverty line (APL) or below poverty line (BPL) category.

Inaugurating a month-long EMS birth centenary celebration, organised by the party’s district unit here, he said food security could be ensured only if rice was made available to all at Rs. 2 a kg through the public distribution system. Otherwise, the law planned by the government would not ensure food security.

Mr. Karat was critical of the proposed law, which proposes 25 kg of rice for every BPL family at Rs.3 a kg. He said 10 States were already providing 35 kg to each BPL family at Rs.2 a kg.

The new law would make it compulsory to sell rice at Rs.3 a kg. This was the key issue on which the Left parties were opposing the proposed law.

He said many areas of the country faced severe drought. This could result in a poor kharif harvest and push up prices.

Therefore, the new law should be universal, irrespective of APL and BPL categories.

The CPI(M) and other Left parties had demanded that futures trading in foodgrains and essential commodities should be stopped. Such trading was done to push up prices.

By promoting futures trading, the Congress wanted to help the corporate sector, he alleged.

Disinvestment

Mr. Karat said disinvestment of public sector undertakings was a backdoor method to privatisation. While the Left Democratic Front government of Kerala did a commendable work in reviving the public sector, at the national level, the Congress was determined to go ahead with disinvestment. Therefore, the Left and democratic forces should join hands to launch a major struggle to prevent the dismantling of public sector undertakings.

While the CPI(M) was for having greater cooperation with all countries in the region, the way in which free trade agreements were being signed by the Centre would prove to be highly harmful to the industrial and agricultural sectors of the country. The terms of the ASEAN agreement was kept a secret till it was signed.

Lowering of tariffs and abolishing duty would ruin the industrial, agricultural and fisheries sectors. Kerala would be one among the worst-affected States. How could a Central government sign agreements that would directly affect the States? He asked.

The Centre could not ride roughshod over the States in a federal set-up.

Smear campaign

In Kerala and West Bengal, a section of the corporate media and anti-Left forces had joined hands to launch a smear campaign against the CPI(M). Kerala State secretary of the party Pinarayi Vijayan could not attend the last Polit Bureau meeting because of ill health.

But the corporate media spread a different story. Now it appeared that even to go to hospital, one should take the permission of the media.

Mr. Karat said EMS was a personality who made a distinctive contribution in every sphere.

He applied his intellectual powers and practical knowledge on almost all major questions of society in the 20th century. He stood for the emancipation of the peasantry.

EMS was also the first to point out the threat posed by majority communalism by stating that the RSS-BJP combine posed a threat to the unity of the country.

He called upon the working class to counter the rise of communalism. EMS had said that minority communalism should also be fought.

CPI(M) district secretary K. Rajagopal presided and Mayor N. Padmalochanan welcomed the gathering.

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