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CPI-M manifesto pledges to repeal sedition law

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Thursday released its election manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, pledging to repeal the sedition law, abolish death penalty and restore the Planning Commission.

The party also urged the people to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance so that an alternative secular government can be formed at the Centre, as the incumbent government has betrayed every single promise made to the people during the 2014 general elections.

"The CPI-M pledges to repeal the colonial era sedition law, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and replace it with a suitable law which provides a legal framework for the operation of the armed forces without the draconian provisions," said the party manifesto released by CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and other top leaders, including Prakash Karat and Vrinda Karat.

It also pledged to repeal the National Security Act and Section 499 of the IPC relating to defamation.

The party said in its manifesto that if an alternative government is formed at the Centre, the party would call for amending the IPC and other statutes to remove death penalty as well as scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Bill that makes "religion" as a "criteria" for granting citizenship.

The CPI-M also pledged to constitute a National Judicial Commission as an independent constitutional body comprising representatives from the judiciary, executive, legislature and the Bar for appointments and transfers and to examine instances of commission/omission of judges and ensure judicial accountability.

"Reforming the judicial system to provide speedy relief at affordable cost to the common people; filling up vacancies in the judiciary. Suitably amending the definition of criminal contempt in order to prevent its misuse in suppressing dissent and public declaration of their assets by the judges to be made mandatory," the manifesto read.

It also said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries were brazenly being appointed to high positions in all universities, institutions of higher education, research bodies and cultural academies in order to communalise the Indian education system.

In defence of secularism, the RSS personnel appointed in key positions by the BJP government would be removed, the manifesto said.

Criticising the BJP government's foreign policy, the CPI-M favoured resumption of dialogues with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues, including cross-border terrorism. It also favoured special efforts to build ties with Bangladesh and settle the Teesta water agreement.

The party pledged to restore the Planning Commission and said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be overhauled respecting the federal structure of the country and the rights of the states by sharing the resources with them.

The manifesto also promised the reversal of privatisation of the defence production sector and said the party would immediately take measures to rescind private participation in defence production by stopping FDI inflows in defence sector and strengthening and expanding the state-owned defence industry to achieve self reliance in defence.

Using the occasion, Yechury accused the Modi government of attacking institutions and weakening the democracy and said the general elections must seek accountability of this government over the balance sheet of promises made and their betrayals.

"During the last five years, the BJP, particularly Narendra Modi, has betrayed every single promise that was made to the Indian people such as generation of two crore jobs every year, i.e. 10 crore by now; an MSP of 1.5 times the total cost of production for the farmers; return of black money and depositing Rs 15 lakh in the accounts of every Indian and so on," he said.

Yechury said the primary task before India's electorate is to ensure the defeat of this government and give a mandate for the establishment of an alternative secular government that can defend the constitutional republic.

Terming five years of Modi rule as an "unmitigated disaster for the country and its people", Yechury urged the public to strengthen the Left in the 17th Lok Sabha.

Underlining the coming elections as "the most crucial in the history of independent India," the CPI-M said: "The future of the secular democratic republic is at stake under Modi government."

"It has mounted a brazen and continuing assault on all constitutional authorities and institutions during these last five years. The BJP continuing to head the Central government will further undermine the fundamental pillars of our Constitution," the manifesto said.

--IANS

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