Left organises nationwide protests against rising prices (Second Intro Roundup)

April 8th, 2010 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Tens of thousands of Left activists staged noisy but peaceful protests across India Thursday, with thousands courting arrest, to denounce rising food prices and attacks on their cadres in West Bengal, party sources said.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said an estimated 25 lakh workers and leaders of the CPI-M, Communist Party of India (CPI), Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) took part in the protests.

A CPI-M statement said an overwhelming 15 lakh took to the streets in Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala, but here they did not offer themselves for arrest as part of the country-wide ‘jail bharo’ (fill the jails) campaign.

In both states, the demonstrators picketed outside central government offices to object to what they said was New Delhi’s failure to curb rising prices of essential commodities.

“The government has failed to check shooting prices of food and other essential commodities,” CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat thundered at a rally of about 2,000 people in the heart of Delhi.

Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas told IANS that he and Karat along with A.B. Bardhan of CPI and Abani Roy of RSP courted arrest in the heart of the capital while marching towards parliament.

Police used water cannons to disperse the protesters when they tried to cross police barricades, he said.

In his speech, Karat asked the government to strengthen the public distribution system, implement land reforms and provide more employment opportunities.

The CPI-M statement put the number of people taking part in the protests in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu at around 100,000 each, over 75,000 in Bihar, about 30,000 each in Jharkhand and Punjab, and 15,000 each in Karnataka, Orissa and Assam.

In Patna, the protests were led by CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat. Hundreds, including Karat, were arrested for blocking roads.

In Tripura, an estimated 150,000 men and women led by CPI-M state secretary Bijon Dhar courted arrest in 55 places across the state that is considered a Marxist stronghold.

The CPI-M said hundreds also took part in protest rallies in Jammu and Srinagar. Activists led by state general secretary M.Y. Tarigami gathered at the Press Colony in Srinagar shouting slogans.

“The skyrocketing prices have taken place because of the wrong policies of the central government,” Tarigami said.

In Himachal Pradesh, hundreds of CPI-M activists were arrested across the state, police said. Life was hit in Shimla, Mandi and Hamirpur.

“A meeting of the leaders of Left parties and secular parties will be held April 12 to decide further course of action,” Prakash Karat said.

Biswas said the Left parties had started consultations with almost all parties barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to further strengthen the movement against the Congress-led government’s “anti-people policies”.

Left sources said they were in touch with the Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal-Secular, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal, all of which are expected to attend the April 12 meeting to discuss a joint strategy in parliament.

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