Economic issues take a backseat to politics

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Highlights

The Central Committee of CPI (M) has called for a mass campaign throughout the country on the major issues facing the people such as price rise, unemployment, livelihood of farmers and agricultural workers, against privatisation and attacks on the working class and the overall onslaught on democracy and democratic rights by the Modi's government

The Central Committee of CPI (M) has called for a mass campaign throughout the country on the major issues facing the people such as price rise, unemployment, livelihood of farmers and agricultural workers, against privatisation and attacks on the working class and the overall onslaught on democracy and democratic rights by the Modi's government. This campaign which began on September 14 will last till 24 and will concentrate on taking these issues to the people, along with alternative policies required to solve these problems.

We do hear about price rise or unemployment etc., now and then, but are we worried or concerned? Do we fathom the impact of such issues on our lives? Though people have been living with these things, there is not a whimper of protest from them. The civil society is not getting organised to protest and even if they protest it is limited to venting their anguish on news channels. Media in itself does not seem to be serious about non-governance or bad governance in the country. It is more preoccupied with political news.

A politically fragmented opposition is content with attacking the Prime Minister and his party's politics. The latter is happy with picking up holes in the Opposition argument. The problem of price rise is the most acute for the people. The latest figures of August show that retail inflation has again touched 7 per cent with wholesale inflation continuing to hover around 15 per cent.

The biggest contributor to rising inflation has been the high level of petrol and diesel prices which is caused by the high level of central taxes on petroleum products through various cesses and surcharges. At present, the Centre is collecting around Rs 28 per litre on petrol and Rs 22 per litre on diesel, and this is after the reduction of cess by Rs 10 in April last year. During the last fiscal year of 2021-22, the union government collected more than Rs 4 lakh crore through cess on petroleum products. This reliance on raising revenue through taxing petroleum products is because the Centre refuses to adequately raise taxes on the Corporates and the super rich as the Left alleges. Due to this class policy, the people are being squeezed for garnering more revenue. If people have to get relief from the incessant price rice, it is essential that the government withdraw the cess and surcharge on petroleum products. It must also withdraw the 5 per cent GST rate levied on packaged food articles like atta, milk products and other food items.

The biggest failure of the government in the last eight years has been in ensuring sufficient generation of employment. This is a government which promised to create two crore jobs every year. There is severe unemployment especially among the youth. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), in the age group of 20-24 years the unemployment rate is a staggering 42 per cent. There are 10 lakh central government jobs remaining vacant. The government has refused to provide MNREGA to 1.47 crore people and the backlog in unpaid wages in also huge and is pending from 2021-22 calendar. These are the issues which can unite people easily, provided someone works on those lines and not political causes.

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