Mainstream Communist parties are in rapid retreat in the 2014 General Election with only one of them, the CPI(M), expected to win seats by its own ability. But they have always been thinkers. Right now the Left has no stake barring what it thinks would benefit India.
The CPI(M) and the CPI have released their manifestos but they have not attracted attention. Our understanding of Indian politics would be incomplete without a sense of Communist ideation.
Here are some of their important thoughts. It is an interesting and provocative mix.
First the CPI(M).
1. Increase annual plan expenditure to 10% of India’s GDP, expenditure on education to 6% of GDP, on health to 5%, on indigenous science and technology research to 2%.
The CPI(M) says much of its revenue would come from black money brought back to India and recovery of big corporate loans classified as nonperforming assets by banks. All plans collapse if this does not happen.
2. Scrap Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. Set a minimum floor for social sector spending as a binding constraint for governments.
Difficult to argue against but the devil is in the execution.
3. Restore Long-term Capital Gains Tax, increase Securities Transaction Tax, increase Wealth Tax for the super-rich, and introduce Inheritance Tax.
Open war against big money. Could divide the classes in an interesting battle.
4. Review Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Mauritius and other countries. Hike corporate profit tax by increasing statutory rates. Tax capital gains from international transfer of shares in foreign companies with assets in India.
Everybody agrees that the Mauritius route could be plugged. The rest is debatable.
Image: In this photo taken April 27, 2011, a Muslim voter waits outside a polling station during West Bengal state assembly elections at Sherpur, 52 kilometers south from Kolkata. (AP)