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Modi government using pandemic to create unitary state: Sitaram Yechury

CPI(M) to hold country-wide protests on June 16 demanding immediate cash transfers, free food grains for the poor

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi government of using the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an excuse to replace the secular democratic and federal structure of the country with a unitary form of theocratic government. The party will be holding country-wide protests on June 16 demanding immediate cash transfers and free food grains for the poor.

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He addressed reporters via Facebook live to brief about the decisions taken by the party’s Polit Bureau. This was the first meeting of the Polit Bureau after the lockdown was announced on March 24. The members met via video link.

Mr. Yechury said the Central government had now virtually left the Indian people to fend for themselves in combating the pandemic. State governments which were on the forefront of this battle had been denied even their legitimate dues such as GST payouts. Mr. Yechury said the pandemic was being used for centralisation of authority which in turn was destroying a basic feature of our Constitution — federalism.

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“A unitary state is being created by the Modi government that will facilitate the disruption of the secular democratic republic of India and transition to RSS political project of a theocratic state,” he said.

The Polit Bureau statement said the Gross Tax Revenues (GTR) had 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 which are already starved of finances,” the statement said.

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Mr. Yechury said both the imposition and now lifting of the lockdown was unscientific. The 63-day lockdown had rendered nearly 150 million people unemployed.

Four demands

The all-India protest to be observed on June 16 was to raise four key demands. First, immediate cash transfer of ₹7,500 per month for a period of six months to all families outside the income tax paying bracket. Second, free distribution of 10 kg foodgrains, per individual, per month for a period of six months. Third, expansion of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act from the current 100 days to 200 days with enhanced wages. And extend the employment guarantee scheme to the urban poor. “Immediately announce allowance to the unemployed persons,” Mr. Yechury said.

The fourth demand was to halt the attack on labour laws and privatisation of the public sector.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 8:31:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-government-using-pandemic-to-create-unitary-state-sitaram-yechury/article31742453.ece

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