CPI(M) releases manifest for LS polls, promises to scrap UA(P)A, PMLA, CAA

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New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) The CPI(M) on Thursday released its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, promising to scrap all "draconian" laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Calling on the people to defeat the BJP and its allies in the polls and ensure that an alternative secular government is formed at the Centre, the party appealed to voters to increase the strength of Left parties.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Republic of India is facing an "existential threat" and if its secular, democratic and republic character has to be safeguarded, then the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be "separated from holding the reins of power".

The party, a member of the opposition INDIA bloc, said that besides the UA(P)A and the PMLA, it is also committed to scrapping the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The bloc comprising parties such as the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, was formed to take on the counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the polls, voting for which will take place in seven phase between April 19 and June 1. Counting of votes is scheduled on June 4.

Protecting India's secular democracy, addressing issues related to people's livelihood, "restoration" of constitutional rights of states, guarantee of minimum support price to farmers for crops, conducting a caste census and holding elections immediately in Jammu and Kashmir were among the other promises made by the party in its manifesto.

"The Republic of India is today facing an existential threat, it should be protected, and the character of the republic -- secular, democratic, republic, that character has to be safeguarded. If that has to be done, the BJP and Mr. Modi must be separated from holding the reins of power," Yechury said after the release of the manifesto at the party's office here.

"First point is strict adherence to secular democracy... and protection of all regardless of caste, creed or sex as the Constitution says we are all equal... That equality must be ensured along with the delivery of justice," he said.

The CPI(M) said the Lok Sabha elections are taking place at a time when the secular and democratic Republic of India faces an "existential crisis created by the Narendra Modi-led decade-long rule of the BJP government".

It is the "bounden duty of every patriot to first and foremost ensure the defeat of the BJP and its allies," it said and pledged to fight for an "uncompromising adherence to the principle that religion is separated from politics, the State, the government and the administration".

The CPI(M) said it will fight for a law against hate speeches and crimes, and is committed to scrapping the CAA, as well as "draconian laws" such as the UA(P)A and PMLA.

The party is committed to protecting India's "economic sovereignty", it said and added that this will not be possible without protecting the public sector. Privatisation of the public sector must be revisited and reversed, the party asserted in its manifesto.

The Left party promised a legislation for a tax on the super-rich, to bring pro-worker laws to replace the labour codes, include Right to Work as a constitutional right, fill vacancies in the government and the public sector and strengthen the MSME sector to generate jobs.

The CPI(M) said the budgetary allocations for the MGNREGS must be doubled, a new law guaranteeing urban employment must be legislated and an unemployment allowance must be provided.

"The destruction of India's demographic dividend must be reversed through a change in current policies of job loss growth," it said.

Food security depends on ensuring security of the farmers of India, the CPI(M) said as it promised a legal guarantee to MSP according to the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations.

The party also called for strengthening the universal Right to Education, stopping privatisation of higher education, allocating at least six per cent of the GDP in the budget to education and reversal of privatisation of education.

On the caste census, which is among the key poll issues of the INDIA bloc, the CPI(M) said in order to acquire proper data on the other backward classes in the country, it is necessary to conduct the census along with the 2021 general census that is overdue.

The party said it stands for the "restoration of the constitutional rights of the states", and supported the devolution of 50 per cent of the total collection of central taxes to states, including the share of surcharges and cesses levied by the Centre.

It also said that a governor of a state should be chosen out of a panel of three eminent persons proposed by the chief minister.

The CPI(M) called for immediate implementation of one-third reservation for women and for strengthening the processes of justice for women victims of crimes.

While expressing its continuing support to the restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, the CPI(M) called for immediate elections to the assembly and restoration of full statehood as first steps.

The party, which has been critical of the government's stand on the Israel-Hamas conflict conflict, also called for a non-aligned foreign policy for India. PTI AO AO ANB ANB