Left hails Tripura victory, dares Congress on policy issues

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New Delhi, Mar 7 (UNI) Enthused by its landslide victory in the Tripura Assembly polls, the CPI(M) today dared the Congress to confront it on policy issues anywhere in the country.

The Tripura election results had not only exposed the Congress links with the terrorist outfits in the state but also the ''hollowness'' of its economic policies, the CPI(M) said.

''The Congress cannot face the Left on policy issues,'' CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told UNI soon after addressing the party cadres, who took out a victory rally in the capital to mark their victory in Tripura.

Asked about the ''political significance'' of the deadline set by him on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Mr Karat quipped, ''We want the government to inform us about its position''.

Mr Karat, on behalf of the Left parties, has sent a letter to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee, who is also the convenor of the joint UPA-Left Committee on the N-deal, asking him to convene the Panel's meeting by March 15 to ascertain the government's stand on the issue.

Earlier, party Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told mediapersons that their party had set the deadline as both the CPI(M) and the CPI would soon get busy with their respective Party Congress in Coimbatore and Hyderabad repectively.

To a specific query on the government's stand on the deal, Mr Yechury said it is learnt that the Indian officials, who held talks with the IAEA were expected to be back in a day or two. ''Now it depends on the government how it conducts itself. Our position is very clear. Let the government come back to the UPA-Left Coordination Committee forum with the latest status of the deal.'' When asked about senior Congress leader and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's diatribe against the Left, the CPI(M) leader said her ''baseless'' remarks did not merit ''any reaction from us. It is her old habit. She has not indulged in something new''.

Ms Dikshit in her public address in Kochi yesterday, not only questioned the Left's parties' ''negative'' stand on the N-deal, but also expressed doubts about their credentials as nationalists and patriots on the plea that they did not have problems with their ''friends''like Russia and China but only with the US.

To a specific query on whether the Left was ready to face elections if the government chose to go ahead with the deal, he said, ''This is the essence of democracy that every political party has to be ready to face elections anytime.'' UNI KSA SB KN1526

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