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Government taxing poor to pay the rich: Yechury

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Virtually charging the government with taxing the poor to pay the rich, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) PM Sitaram Yechury made an impassioned plea in the Rajya Sabha Thursday for narrowing the ‘hiatus’ between ‘shining’ and ‘suffering’ India.

Participating in the discussion on the motion of thanks on the president’s address to a joint session of parliament last week, Yechury also sought an immediate ban on futures trading in essential commodities to bring down their prices.

He was also critical of the ‘shift in direction’ in India’s foreign policy given the increased strategic ties with the US.

‘The budget (for 2010-11) has given concessions of Rs.26,000 crore to the corporate sector and those with high incomes. Yet, Rs.46,000 crore will be raised through indirect taxes, which affects the common man,’ Yechury maintained

‘There is a shining India and there is a suffering India and the hiatus between them is growing. Let us not widen the hiatus and build a better India,’ he added.

In this context, he noted that 10 crore people had gone below the poverty line in the last 20 years ago, with four crore in the last one year alone.

Calling for a ban on futures trading in essential commodities, he quoted from published figures to point out that the profits of operators in this sector had gone up 100 percent in the past year due to the rising prices.

‘In the case of sugar traders, their profits have gone up 341 percent,’ he added.

Holding that India’s ‘independent foreign policy cannot be compromised’, he deprecated the fact that ‘be it climate change or the Doha Round of Trade talks, there is a certain shift in direction due to the greater strategic ties with the US’.

Lamenting that there wasn’t a single mention in the president’s address of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), of which India was a founding member, Yechury added: ‘How then are we to bring about integration between the G-77, IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)?’

Criticising the government’s move to raise Rs.40,000 crore by divesting 10 percent stake in 41 state-owned companies, he said: ‘This is being done at a time when these companies have lost 27.41 percent of their market cap in the last one year.’

‘The government is selling the public sector for a song,’ Yechury charged.

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