Wednesday, October 20, 2010


THE strength of the Left parties in Bihar state assembly is set to increase after the present elections, asserted CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat on October 11, 2010 while addressing his first election campaign meeting in the present elections in Darbhanga district. He said this would open the way for greater struggles to ensure implementation of land reforms in the state and remove the backwardness of Bihar.

Karat addressed an election meeting in Gorhela village in favour of CPI (M) candidate in Bahadurpur constituency, Shyam Bharathi. A significant feature of this constituency is the fact that the CPI (M) candidate is a dalit and he is fighting from a general constituency. Forty five year old Bharathi is an active fighter for people's cause in these areas for the last many years and this is his first electoral battle.

Prakash Karat attacked the Nitish Kumar government for pursuing similar neo-liberal economic policies as the UPA government at the centre. He was particularly critical about non-implementation of land reforms and neglect of agriculture in a state where there are maximum number of landless people and more than 60 per cent survive on agriculture. Darbhanga and surrounding districts are prone to floods and drought alternatively but the people are left to fend for themselves with no help from the centre or the state government. The agrarian crisis is intensifying to an unprecedented level with market economic policies driving the governments who are cutting subsidies and increasing the input costs. In such a situation, Karat stressed that the ongoing land struggle in Bihar for distribution of land to the landless assumes great importance. He called upon the toiling masses to further intensify this struggle and elect Left MLAs in order to force the new assembly to implement the land reforms. It is only the Left parties that are offering a genuine alternative to the caste and communal politics of the bourgeois parties in the state. He cited the glorious record of Bengal, Kerala and Tripura governments of the Left in implementation of land reforms.

Karat lampooned the prime minister and Congress leaders talk of robust economic growth in the country by saying that this has only resulted in the growth of dollar billionaires in the country (worth more than Rs 5000 crore) from 52 in 2009 to 69 in 2010. Of them, one person alone has assets worth Rs 1,69,000 crore while some have assets worth more than Rs 50,000 crore. This contrasts with a situation where lakhs of farmers have been committing suicide as farming is becoming increasingly unviable.

Karat criticised the Nitish government for not implementing MNREGA properly in the state and asked the people to question the government. This Act was brought into existence with the tremendous pressure brought upon the UPA government by the Left parties. The Congress and the government were not at all in favour of bringing this Act and are now trying to dilute it through tardy implementation, he charged.

Mentioning the ongoing discussions on the proposed Food Security Act, Karat asserted that the CPI (M) would continue to mount pressure on the government for incorporating the universalisation of PDS in the Act. “The government wants to continue the division of the poor into BPL and APL. This is not acceptable. It is also trying to limit the implementation of the Act to just 150 districts out of the 600 districts in the country. We have to keep up the struggle to force the government to accept universalisation of PDS”, he said amidst applause from the audience.

Referring to the aaya ram and gaya ram culture of bourgeois parties MLAs, Karat told the people that there is no guarantee that the MLAs they voted for under one symbol would tomorrow remain with that party because they are being bought over by money power. Most of these MLAs are contesting in order to increase their assets. He contrasted this with the Left MLAs who are in politics in order to serve the people. They forego their salaries and pensions to the Party and live on the allowance given by the Party. They do not defect to other parties. The people of Bihar, who have a glorious legacy of fighting the British, must uphold that tradition and send more Left MLAs in these elections, he appealed.

Later, over the next two days Prakash Karat addressed election meetings in Madhubani and Samasthipur districts, including a massive meeting in Narhan in favour of sitting CPI (M) MLA and state secretariat member Ramdev Verma who is seeking re-election from Vibhutipur constituency.

Earlier, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member and incharge of Bihar, S Ramchandran Pillai campaigned for the Party in Saran and Champaran districts during October 8 – 10.
(N S Arjun from Darbhanga)


Monday, October 4, 2010


FEELING itself starved of issues against the Left Front government of Tripura, the state Congress has now got a ‘juicy’ issue, i.e. recent hike in consumer power tariff. Over it, they are now making an all over the state.
In June, the Congress led government at the centre abruptly raised the price of natural gas from Rs 2376 to 5133 per cubic metre, i.e. by about 116 per cent. While thus helping the Ambani brothers reap super profits from gas fields which they have been allowed to exploit, the centre did not consider the adverse effects the people and the states depending on natural gas for power generation may face.

It is known that power tariff in a state is regulated by a commission appointed under the Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, passed by the NDA government in 1998. The Congress allowed the bill pass through in parliament. The bill gives the commission absolute authority to regulate power tariff, free from interference by any government. In fact, through this act, the central government snatched from the states all the scope to regulate tariff. Then came the final stroke. The Electricity Act 2003, which also got support from the Congress, pulled out power from the concurrent list. With these two acts, the centre left no scope for the state governments in generation, transportation and distribution of power or regulation of tariff.


In Tripura, except Damboor hydel plant generating 8 MW per day, all other power plants are thermal plants running on natural gas. During the dry spell when the water level of the reservoir comes down, the Damboor plant ceases generation for several months. An 84 MW capacity NEC plant is based on natural gas while the work on two more gas-based power plants, one by ONGC and other by NEC, are in progress. Altogether, 92 per cent of the state’s total power generation is based on natural gas. So this steep hike in the natural gas price has a disastrous effect on Tripura which is almost totally dependent on gas for power generation.

The government of Tripura, along with those of other north eastern states, vehemently protested against this hike. State chief minister Manik Sarkar and power minister Manik Dey wrote to the prime minister and central power minister urging for exempting at least the north eastern states from this hike. Tripura Left Front Committee and the CPI (M) state committee also protested. All the three MPs from Tripura met Murali Deora, union power minister, and submitted a joint memorandum urging exemption for the NE states. DYFI and other mass organisations organised protest demonstration before the office of the GAIL and ONGC protesting this hike of natural gas price. But the UPA government preferred to serve the interest of the corporate sectors including Ambani brothers, instead of rendering relief to the backward states of this region.

As a matter of fact, the Electricity Regulatory Authority, an independent body to take care of the financial aspects of Tripura State Electricity Corporation Ltd (TSECL), has calculated a flat rise of Rs 2.09 per unit of power for meeting its additional expenses following the gas price hike. Considering this hike to be too much for the consumers, most of whom are poor, middle class and BPL holders enjoying Kutir Jyoti connections, the TSECL then reduced the hike to Rs 1.40 per unit. Further, in its cabinet meeting held on September 23, state Left Front government decided to pay subsidy to the BPL families and consumers of three lower slabs. The number of consumers that would fall under the purview of this subsidy scheme is 4,24,372 (98.55 per cent) out of the total 4,60,723 consumers in the state. Including the subsidy on the power used for irrigation and drinking water, the additional financial burden to be borne by the state exchequer will stand at Rs 22 crore per annum. (Unlike nowhere in the country, the Left Front government of Tripura provides irrigation and drinking water to the consumers free of cost and bears the entire electricity cost for these purposes.) Altogether, an extent of Rs 77 crore per annum is paid by the government of Tripura as subsidy, in order to render relief to the jhumias, the landless, kisans, agricultural workers, rural artisans, students etc. The subsidy given by the government is shown in
Table 1 below.
In sum, even after the recent enhancement, power tariff now in force in Tripura is still lower than in many advanced states of the country.


To divert the people’s attention from this hard fact and hide the anti-people measure of the UPA government of hiking the natural gas price, the state Congress started making uproar all through the state, seeking to put the state government in the dock. They are propagating that the state government has failed to contain the transportation loss of electricity and is therefore burdening the poor consumers with the cost of lost power. If this could be reduced to zero, they argue, consumers could be provided electricity at a much cheaper rate. Here also, the Congress is resorting to mischief in order to mislead the people. Without some transportation loss or system loss, electricity can never be provided to consumers. It is an unavoidable part of the system in electricity, though its extent varies according to distance from the generating point, character of geographical terrain, number of connections etc. In Tripura, as we can see from Table 2, power transportation loss is much below compared to the many other states in the country.

Inaugurating a 21 MW gas based thermal power plant at Baramura in West Tripura on September 21, chief minister Manik Sarkar expressed satisfaction that the plant had been commissioned at last, despite non-cooperation from the centre. At the same time, he criticised the dilly-dallying negative attitude adopted by the centre for giving a sanction to this plant. It is an accepted norm in respect of the North East that the central government bear the financial responsibility to the extent of 90 per cent for setting up any plant and industry here. But when the proposal for this plant was mooted, the central government refused to allocate 90 per cent finance and imposed the entire liability on the state government. After a long series of arguments and correspondence, ultimately the centre had to accept the reasons put forward by the state government and concede fund sharing in the 90:10 ratio. This plant would have been commissioned two years back, however, in only the central government had extended cooperation to the state government from the beginning, the chief minister repented.

Does the state Congress feel that that its deceitful tactic would not be comprehended by the common people. However, our experience is different. We do believe that the politically conscious democratic people of Tripura would not fail to recognise that the Congress has done nothing for the poor people except making false and deceitful promises.

Table 1: Subsidy on Power in Tripura

Connection category
Unit slab /KW
Pre-hike price per unit
Enhanced price per unit (post- hike rate)
Government subsidy per unit
Post-hike price per unit
Kutir Jyoti
(For BPL families)

Rs.26.00 (Gross)
Rs.17.00 (Gross)
Rs. 9.00
Domestic (rural)
0-30 Units
Rs. 1.20
Rs. 2.60
Rs. 0.65
Rs. 1.95
Slab -1
0-50 Units
Rs. 1.30
Rs. 0.50
Rs. 2.20
Slab -2
51-150 Units
Rs. 1.90
Rs. 3.30
Rs. 0.20
Rs. 3.10
paan shop etc.
0-30 Units
Rs. 2.00
Rs. 3.40
Rs. 0.55
Rs. 2.85

Table 2: Transportation Loss of Electricity, 2009-10

33.55 per cent
40.53 per cent
Jammu & Kashmir
69.09 per cent
Madhya Pradesh
45.36 per cent
36.93 per cent
30.53 per cent
West Bengal
34.44 per cent
50.86 per cent
36.92 per cent
31.06 per cent
32.00 per cent