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`I-Day speech should deal with problems of the poor'

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Mr A. B. Bardhan, General Secretary, CPI, with Mr D. Raja, National Secretary, at a press conference in the Capital on Sunday. — Ramesh Sharma

New Delhi , Aug. 8

THE Communist Party of India (CPI) on Sunday said the Prime Minister's Independence Day speech should focus on concrete issues relating to problems of unorganised and agricultural workers, deprived sections and floods and drought situation, and not contain "bombastic announcements" as in Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure.

``In the past few years, we have heard the Prime Minister make bombastic announcements on August 15, but there has been no follow up... So, this year, it should be a matter-of-fact speech which has a meaning and is followed up by the Government,'' the CPI General Secretary, Mr A.B. Bardhan, told reporters at the end of two-day Central Secretariat meeting.

The speech on August 15 should deal with problems of unorganised and agricultural workers, those below poverty line, the National Employment Guarantee Scheme, floods and drought, he said.

Noting that inflation had risen to over seven per cent recently, he said steps must be taken to bring the price control mechanisms into action. CPI has also sought a review and restructure of import and excise duties in oil sector to prevent further pressure on prices of essential commodities.

On EPF interest rates, Mr Bardhan said CPI would submit a note to the Government to demonstrate that there was no compulsion for it to lower the rate to eight per cent.

He said while the Left parties were not opposed to foreign direct investment per se, a lot depended on which sector it was coming from and the limit.

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