New Delhi, July 30: Four Left parties today kicked off a five-day protest to demand subsidised food for all, their venue 50 metres away from Anna Hazare’s stage at Jantar Mantar.
The choice of the location is being seen as a subtle intervention against the social activist’s all-out attack against the political class.
The protest, coming close on the heels of the CPM’s support to the Congress in the presidential and vice-presidential polls that came under criticism from other Left parties, is also being seen as a message that such a stand has neither dented Left unity nor diluted the opposition to the UPA’s policies.
A constellation of Left stars — CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, politburo member Brinda Karat, CPI general secretary Suddhakar Reddy and predecessor A.B. Bardhan — endured the heat and humidity and sat through the day to compete with team Anna on an indefinite fast.
The presence of Brinda and Bardhan on the Left stage was noted with interest by some participants. CPM and CPI leaders had faced criticism from the rank and file when Brinda Karat and Bardhan had shared space with Team Anna once.
The two Left parties had then supported Anna’s agitation against the government. However, the Left supporters started balking when the social activists attacked parliamentarians and the political class.
In their speeches, however, the Left leaders refrained from making any reference to Anna or his team members and focused on the two issues: food security for all and the impact of price rise.
“The food security bill as proposed by the government is not acceptable to us. We want food for all at subsidised rates. The bill, once passed by Parliament, will also be an attack on states that are giving cheap rice to their people,” Prakash Karat said and promised to build up a vigorous movement across the country.
The Left protest was not completely free of the Anna factor, though. Many a times the voice of the Left leaders got drowned by the high-decibel music being blared from Anna’s stage. The Left show was also overshadowed by the size of Anna’s show.
However, considering Delhi is not a Left bastion, the parties seemed to have worked hard, drawing a good crowd from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. For the next four days, Left units in the two states have been asked to drum up support.
The crowd from both sides, however, mingled with each other. Cadres sporting red badges walked up to the other side to have a glimpse of Anna.