Communists start second anti-naval exercise rally from Chennai


Chennai : The Left parties Wednesday began a rally from Chennai to Eastern Naval Command headquarters at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to protest the five-nation joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-US nuclear deal.

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General Secretary of the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) Prakash Karat and his counterpart in the Communist Party of India (CPI) D. Raja led the rally.

The Left leaders garlanded a statue of V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, a Tamil nationalist ship builder (1872-1936, popularly referred to as Kappalottiya Tamilan for his Swadeshi shipping company), before the start of the march.

“Let all of us take a pledge to fight imperialist forces, like the late leader,” Karat remarked on the occasion.

“The situation is almost the same now as it was at the time Pillai launched his struggle against the British empire,” he held and added: “We will fight to stop India becoming an US ally.”

“India’s sovereignty must be protected,” Raja said.

The Left leaders said: “The joint naval exercise is a threat to the national sovereignty and independence of India.”

Both leaders said the rally was not a symbolic protest. They insisted this was “just the small beginning of a big fight”.

Karat refused to comment on the parliamentary committee set up to study the Hyde Act and the 123 agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the US.

“It has been decided already,” he said, referring to the composition of the committee. The government announced the names on the 15-member panel Tuesday night.

At a public meeting Tuesday night, Karat had pointed out that in the Common Minimum Programme agreed between the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left parties that support the government from outside, there wasn’t a word about any Indo-USA “strategic alliance”.

He also noted that nuclear power accounted for just three percent of the electricity generated in India, and it would increase to just seven percent by 2020, and that “this was not going meet India’s power requirement”.

On Saturday in Visakhpatnam, the Chennai rally will link up with the other communist rally that started from Kolkata Tuesday for the same purpose.