KOCHI: Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said on Saturday that the CPI(M) would step up the fight against caste-based discrimination and atrocities against Dalits across the country.
Declaring open the Dalit convention here, he referred to the caste segregation at Uthapuram in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu and said the CPI (M)’s intervention there had helped in breaking the nine-foot wall that had cut off Dalits’ access.
A survey by the party had shown that acute forms of discrimination existed in Tamil villages. Such oppression took place in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and other places on a day-to-day basis and that was why the CPI (M) was now prioritising mobilisation of Dalits to fight against caste discrimination. The 19th party congress had mandated such a struggle.
He pointed out that the Dalits were the worst-affected by the globalisation-liberalisation policy as millions of traditional workers such as weavers, farmhands and fishermen had been deprived of their livelihoods. The CPI (M) stood for reservation of jobs for the SCs and STs in the private sector as well as for earmarking a certain percentage of seats in private higher-education institutions. Because of the government’s policy of downsizing, the public sector was shrinking leading to the shrinking of Dalits’ job opportunities too. Noting that the privatisation of public sector units reduced the number of reserved jobs, Mr. Karat asked the UPA government to ensure that when PSUs were privatised, the SC-ST quota should be continued in the privatised unit.
He contended that since many private units were heavily subsidised in the form of cheap power, tax holidays and infrastructural assistance, they were not exactly `private’ and that the State had a stake in them. In view of this, the government should ensure that these firms complied with the statutory SC-ST reservation.
Mr. Karat, however, stressed that reservation could be a temporary relief and for a permanent solution to the Dalit discrimination, basic social transformation was essential. It was because of the Communist movement and the work of social reformers that the Dalits’ condition was far better in Kerala than in any other State. The atrocities against the Dalits as witnessed in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu would never take place in Kerala, which had in the past been the venue of the worst form of untouchability and Dalit oppression, Mr. Karat said.
The CPI(M)’s organising the Dalit meet has been flayed by its political opponents saying the party was straying from its traditional ‘class struggle’ theory and that it was trying to create a Dalit vote bank.
Courtesy: The Hindu for story and image