CPM bats for gay rights in manifesto

NEW DELHI (TIP): The CPM on March 20 sought decriminalization of section 377 of Indian Penal Code — the only Indian political party to have taken such a stand so far — and scrapping of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act as it unveiled its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls.

In a break from the stand taken by other parties in the wake of the Supreme Court declaring gay sex illegal, overturning a Delhi high court ruling, the CPM had recently come out in support of the TOI manifesto to do away with archaic laws. In the backdrop of Telangana bill being passed by Parliament even though Andhra Pradesh assembly had returned it, the manifesto said the Constitution should be amended to make it mandatory to seek the state legislature’s consent in case of division.

Despite the desertion by key partners of Third Front, the CPM has not lost hope of cobbling up an alliance after the elections. Releasing the manifesto, party general secretary Prakash Karat said efforts would be made to form a non-Congress, non-BJP government after the results. “We (Left and regional parties) have decided to fight both Congress and BJP. We are going together…We are working to maximise our strengths and seats in respective states or areas of strength. A concrete shape will emerge after the elections,” Karat said.

The CPM manifesto is high on a secular democratic alternative. Karat said, “We will pool in our resources and strengths after the elections…that is going to happen.” He also insisted that CPM or any constituent never called the 11-party alliance ‘Third Front. “Our coming together was not predicated on any alliance with each other,” he said. Karat also dismissed the viability of a federal front’, an idea floated by Mamata Banerjee. “Without Left no alternative is possible.” CPM general secretary said the left parties would contest about 100 seats across the country.

He said there will be no impact on Left Front’s fortune in Kerala after the state unit of Revolutionary Socialist Party crossed over to Congress-led United Democratic Front. Taking on both Congress and BJP for turning the election into a personality battle, Karat said, “It is clear that the elections are being projected as a battle between certain leaders or personalities but devoid of major issues and policies afflicting the people.” While he criticized the Congress for its misrule, price rise, corruption and scams, BJP, Karat said, is “not only not an alternative to Congress, but a retrograde and reactionary alternative.”

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He said BJP is as corrupt as Congress. Party’s manifesto promises to reverse the deregulation of petroleum products, ban futures trade in agricultural commodities, enlarge resource base by taxing the rich and corporate profits; crackdown on tax evaders, black money and money laundering. Karat said party is not happy with the Food Security Act and promised to bring a new law which will be based on universal public distribution system. CPM manifesto also says there should be devolution of 50 per cent of the total collection of central taxes to states and transferring of centrally sponsored schemes under state subjects with funds to the Centre.

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