GATT politics

  • 14/06/1994

GATT politics ANTI-GATT

ALL the major opposition parties, with the help of mass-based organisations, are planning either demonstrations, rallies, civil disobedience movements or study camps for farmers throughout the country to protest GATT. In the Rajya Sabha, where the Congress is in a minority, opposition parties are getting together to prevent GATT-related bills from being passed. Although they are united against GATT, there are wide differences in what each party is highlighting:

Left parties: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) plan a joint civil disobedience movement in New Delhi and the state capitals. The CPM says GATT is merely a continuation of the policy of economic liberalisation that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have dictated.

Janata Dal: The party says GATT will undermine the sovereignty of the country and the prices of commodities will go up, farmers will be fleeced by MNCs and consumer goods will flood the markets.

Bharatiya Janata Party: It has launched a swadeshi movement and its countrywide action plan will be formulated at the party's national executive meet in Vadodara June 10-12. Their contention is that GATT will wipe out cottage and small industries in rural areas and lead to large-scale unemployment.

Samajwadi Party: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is touring the state, addressing public meetings and seminars against GATT. The party objects to intellectual property rights in agriculture because it will restrict farmers' rights to seeds.

Opposition states: The chief ministers of opposition-ruled states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Delhi are seeking legal recourse against GATT.

PRO-GATT

Congress: The Congress has directed its district and state organisations to launch mass contact programmes and educate farmers about the advantages of GATT. Pamphlets and literature will be distributed to the state units. The Sewa Dal, a frontal group of the party, will counter the opposition propaganda at the grassroots and 50,000 volunteers have been asked to fan out to the districts and educate the farmers.

Union government: Seminars and discussions are being organised throughout the country. The Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity has begun press campaigns and prepared short films and the Directorate of Field Publicity is taking the message to tehsil and taluka levels. District collectors have been directed to disseminate information. The electronic media are being used extensively: Doordarshan repeatedly telecasts crisp pro-Dunkel clips on prime time and longer features like Dunkel ya Dangal? (Dunkel or Chaos?).

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