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Knock, knock, it’s Karat

New Delhi, Nov. 12: When the going gets cold, the comrades will get going.

In the winter chill of December and January, leaders of the four Left parties, including CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and his CPI counterpart Sudhakar Reddy, would go from house to house to collect signatures.

Their target: five crore signatures in favour of a universal public distribution system (PDS) to ensure food security for the poor and also the relatively affluent.

While the comrades are not known for organising such campaigns, party leaders said the decision, taken today after three rounds of meetings, was aimed at reconnecting with the masses to rejuvenate the Left parties, marginalised since being cold-shouldered by voters in Bengal and Kerala.

“In order to intensify the campaign and widen the movement, the Left parties decided to conduct a countrywide mass signature campaign. The Left parties have given a call to collect five crore signatures,” said a statement released after today’s meeting. “Members of the Left parties and activists will go house to house to collect signatures in the months of December and January,” it added.

The statement did not specify if the top leaders would participate. But Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas said: “Even the leaders of the parties would go house to house and collect signatures.” Asked specifically whether Karat and his counterparts would take part, he said: “All the leaders would participate.”

CPI national secretary D. Raja, too, confirmed that the top leaders would step out. “Yes, yes… the general secretaries also…,” he said.

The signature drive will follow the campaign the Left had conducted on the issue of food security between July and September, when they organised a five-day sit-in in Delhi followed by picketing of food corporation godowns across the country. The demonstrations did not appear to have yielded the desired results, so the decision to knock on houses.

“Through the signature campaign we will get an opportunity to reach out to people and explain to them the wrong policies of the government,” Reddy said.

As part of their universal PDS campaign, the Left parties are demanding that 35kg of food grain, not above Rs 2 a kilo, should be supplied every month to every family below or above the poverty line. The government is planning to extend the subsidy only to those below the poverty line.