By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday lashed out at the Modi government over the sale of Air India to the Tatas, describing it as a “daylight highway robbery” of national assets. It also hit out at the government over the heightening violence and growing alienation of people in Jammu and Kashmir after the unilateral scrapping of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
Briefing the media about the decisions taken in the party’s Polit Bureau meeting held here on October 9, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Modi government continues with its relentless looting of India’s national assets.
“The central government continues with its relentless loot of India’s national assets. The iconic national flag carrier, Air India, has been sold to the Tatas. This sale is tantamount to giving a free gift to the Tatas by the Modi government. This is daylight highway robbery of national assets”.
He alleged that the airline’s burden of Rs 46,262 crore will be left with the people of the country.
“The Tatas will inherit Rs 15,300 crores of debt, which will surely be restructured, paying the central government a mere Rs 2,700 crore for the national carrier, with all its core assets,” Yechury said.
He said the remaining debt of Rs 46,262 crore will be the burden of the government, which means the people will have to bear this.
At the press meet, comrade Yechury also raised the issue of heightening of violence in Jammu and Kashmir, and questioned the government’s promise of peace in the region after it abrogated Article 370 which granted autonomy to the state.
“The abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, the dissolution of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and converting it into two Union Territories directly under the Central rule were all proclaimed as the “true” integration of J&K with India and to end the problems of militancy and alienation in Kashmir”.
Instead of this, he said the direct rule of Delhi in J&K has brought to this pass of heightened violence further alienating the people of the region.
Condemning the recent killing of innocent people in the Kashmir valley, Yechury quoted the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’s statement which says, “These killings have created a climate of fear that has not been seen in Kashmir since the early 1990s”.
Taking a dig at the Prime Minister’s meeting with the leaders of J&K in June this year with promises of erasing `Dil ki doori, Dilli ki doori’, he said the promise remains an empty rhetoric and arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force become a norm in the state.
In response to a question on an alliance with the Congress on the national level, he said the final decision will be taken by the CPI (M) party congress.
“The focus is now to isolate and defeat the BJP and to maximise polling of anti-BJP votes. We will decide state-wise how best this can be done. The focus is on strengthening our independent ways. Find and rectify weaknesses,” he said.
Party sources indicate that the top leadership is divided over a nationwide alliance with the Congress. During a politburo meeting, while leaders from Kerala were opposed to the idea, those from West Bengal contended that a united opposition cannot emerge sans the Congress.
The CPI (M) leader also demanded the immediate sacking of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
On vaccination, he said despite all propaganda and publicity, a mere 18.9 percent of our people are fully vaccinated as of now and only 48.7 per cent received the first dose.He demanded that the vaccination drive be intensified immediately.
Yechury also raised the issue of intolerable price rise saying it is crippling the livelihoods of the vast majority of our people.