CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday announced countrywide protests on June 16 demanding immediate cash transfers and free foodgrains to the poor.
Accusing the Narendra Modi government of using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to replace the secular, democratic and federal structure of the country with a unitary form of theocratic government, Yechury said the Centre has now virtually left the people of the country to fend for themselves in combatting the pandemic.
The Left leader addressed reporters via Facebook Live to brief them about the decisions taken by the politburo of the party, which held its meeting on June 1 via a video link. This was the first meeting of the CPI(M) politburo after the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24.
Mr. Yechury said the state governments that are in the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 were denied even their legitimate dues such as the GST payout.
'Threat to federalism'
He alleged that the pandemic is being used for centralisation of authority, which, in turn, is destroying a basic feature of the Constitution — federalism.
“A unitary state is being created by the Modi government that will facilitate the disruption of the secular democratic republic of India and transition of the RSS political project of a theocratic state,” Mr. Yechury said.
The CPI(M) politburo statement said the Gross Tax Revenues (GTR) have fallen by over ₹70,000 crore and the Corporate Tax Revenue (CTR) by over ₹1,06,000 crore.
“This shortfall in governmental revenues will reduce the share of the states who are already starved of finances,” it added.
Mr. Yechury said the lockdown was imposed arbitrarily and lifted unscientifically.
The all-India protest to be observed on June 16 is to raise key demands, including an immediate cash transfer of ₹7,500 per month for a period of six months to all families outside the income-tax paying bracket, free distribution of 10 kg of foodgrains per individual per month for six months, expansion of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) from the current 100 days to 200 days with enhanced wages.
“Extend the employment guarantee scheme to cover the urban poor. Immediately announce an unemployment allowance for unemployed persons,” Mr. Yechury said.