Manmohan moves to buy peace with carping Left

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 27:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today spoke to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat in a bid to placate the Left over its opposition to the economic policies.

A day after the four-party Left Front announced it would boycott future “coordination committee meetings” with the Congress-led United Progressive Front (UPF), the PM decided to intervene. In a telephonic conversation with Karat, Singh reportedly told him that the government was ready to discuss the issues raised by the Left after UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s return from Shimla.

“The prime minister told Karat that issues could be discussed when Sonia Gandhi and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee (who is in the US) return to Delhi,” an official source said.

In a letter to Gandhi, the CPI-M, along with its allies Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Forward Bloc, yesterday announced they as a mark of protest against the government move to offload per cent of its stake in Bharat Heavy Engineering Ltd (BHEL) they would no more attend the coordination meetings. The Left parties have sent a copy of the letter to Manmohan Singh also. The Left parties have announced a nationwide protest campaign for tomorrow against the hike in fuel prices announced a week ago.

Manmohan Singh, who called on veteran CPI-M leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet day before yesterday, requested his intervention in resolving the present crisis between the UPA and the Left, which props the government from outside.

A section of the Left Front leaders said their aggression over the central government’s free market programme was linked to the assembly elections in two leftwing bastions: Kerala and West Bengal. Communist leaders indicated that if the central government went ahead with its reform agenda, especially privatisation plans, the Left might consider offering only “issue-based support”.

The party leaders pointed out that the Left was more perturbed by the government’s green signal to disinvestment of BHEL.

“Our trade unions and our rank and file are putting pressure on us to clarify the distinction between the Left and Congress-led UPA as the central government is going ahead with (its economic) polices despite our protests,” Forward Bloc leader G Devrajan said. “When elections are pending, it is very important for us,” Devrajan added.