04 October Wednesday

The Left Alternative

Web Desk‌Updated: Saturday Apr 9, 2022

The past eight years have witnessed the rule of the Modi government at the Centre which is the embodiment of the Hindutva-corporate regime. As against the authoritarianism of this government, which is striking at the roots of democracy in the country; the neo-liberal policies which are transferring wealth to a handful of big capitalists; and the imposition of Hindutva values which are inimical to the secular-democratic principles, the CPI-M  will be presenting an alternative.

It is in the context of the struggle for an alternative Left and democratic programme that the Kerala governments policies and performance are relevant. Since the formation of the Left Democratic Front government in May 2016, in the past six years, the government has taken new initiatives and adopted policies which do not toe the Centres neo-liberal policies and anti-democratic measures. The LDF government has adopted an agrarian policy which favours the small farmers and agricultural workers. For instance, the Kerala government gives the highest subsidy for the MSP for paddy.  Kerala also offers the highest rate of MSP for vegetable farmers in India. There is also MSP fixed for fifteen different vegetables, a first in the country.

When the Central government is bent upon privatisation of Central public sector units and has floated the National Monetisation Pipeline to handover public assets cheaply to India and foreign corporates, the Kerala government has done the opposite. It has strengthened the state PSUs and turned around the loss-making ones into making profits. Not only that, the LDF government is actively seeking to takeover Central PSUs that are being either closed down or privatised in Kerala.

The recent example is the Hindustan Paper Mill, which had been shut down for the past two years. The Kerala government has taken this over and reopened the mill for production.

The Public Distribution System in Kerala, which was already the more advanced in the country has been further strengthened under the LDF government. During the Covid period, the supply of rations, doorstep delivery and provision of free food-
kits were notable features. Both in the education and health sectors, progress has been made in upgrading schools with new buildings, smart class rooms and qualitatively better-trained teachers. As a result, there has been a remarkable increase in additional enrolment in government and aided schools. Between 2017-18 and 2020-21, 6.8 lakh additional pupils joined these schools. This is a reversal of the trend of privatisation in other states.

The upgradation of public health facilities stood Kerala in good stead when the Covid pandemic hit. The state has the enviable record of having provided free treatment in government  hospitals for over 95 per cent of Covid patients needing  immediate hospitalisation. Kerala has also shown the way to develop fiscal and social infrastructure without relying only on private investment. Through the KIIFB, more than Rs. 50,000 crores have been invested in new buildings for schools, hospitals, stadiums and roads.

The Kerala government has implemented a comprehensive plan for social welfare catering to all the needy sections. This has resulted in substantial increases in old age pensions and pensions in other categories. In the times when the Hindutva forces are on the rampage all over the country and there are State-sponsored anti-minority laws, Kerala under LDF rule has remained a bastion of secularism and communal harmony. Kerala was the first state in the country where the Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting the Citizenship Amendment Act; The LDF government was the first state government to declare that it will not implement the National Population Register enumeration along with the Census.

The LDF government is also in the forefront in defence of states rights and against encroachment by the Centre on federalism.

It is this proud record which shows how, despite all the limitations of a state government, an alternative path can be envisaged and put into practice. The call for an alternative political, economic and social platform to the Hindutva-corporate regime, which will be made from the 23 rd Congress, will find a concrete expression in the work of the LDF government in Kerala.