'Left-UPA alliance not a pleasant experiment'

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New Delhi, Apr 1: While admitting that the Left parties' decision to provide outside support to the UPA Government has not been a 'very happy experiment', CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan has ruled out the possibility of an early Lok Sabha poll despite the ongoing confrontation between the two sides on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

''I can't say it is a failed experiment but it is not a very happy experiment either,'' Mr Bhardhan said when asked if the Left parties were not feeling let down by the Congress-led coalition government at the Centre. However, he made it clear that the Left parties were not entertaining any proposal to withdraw support to the four- year-old Manmohan Singh Government. ''They (UPA leaders) have also given up the talk of preponing the election,'' he said in an interaction with UNI journalists at the news agency's headquarter here. The veteran leader, who was recently re-elected CPI General Secretary at the party's Congress in Hyderabad, was confident that the Lok Sabha election would be held on schedule next year, notwithstanding the irreconciliable differences between the Left parties and the UPA leadership on the nuclear deal and some of the economic and foreign policy issues.

Mr Bardhan clarified the Left parties were not opposed to nuclear energy to meet India's growing needs in the power sector. But the nuclear deal with the US was against the country's sovereign national interests.

On the reported statement of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the Left's opposition to the deal was on ideological ground, he said, ''We are opposed to the deal for very solid patriotic reason...The deal will be derogatory to our supreme national interests.'' The octogenarian leader wondered why the UPA Government should be in a tearing hurry to rush into the nuclear deal with the US, where also a new Administration would be in place next year.

In any case, there was no meeting ground between the Left parties and the UPA Government on the deal, he added.

Mr Bardhan said the government should also desist from expanding partnership with the US in the defence field. '' We will always remain a junior partner in any relationship with the US...Why should we gang up against anyone with the US?''

On the strains in ties between the UPA Government and the Left parties, Mr Bardhan explained that the ruling coalition was paying heed to views of the Left in the first two years but later started taking many unilateral decisions. ''We were not pressing for our views...We were only making efforts to implement the Common Minimum Programme (CMP).'' Taking credit for enactment of some of the revolutionary measures by the government like the Right to Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Tribal Act, Mr Bardhan said the Left parties had from time to time drawn the attention of the ruling coalition to the runaway inflation, which had badly affected the common man and the middle class.

In this connection, he pointed out that the prices of essential commodities had gone up by 20 per cent in the past one month, after Finance Minister P Chidambaram presented the General Budget 2008-09 in Parliament.

''We are also thinking of launching a very big movement against price rise,'' he said.

Coming to the ongoing protests by the Tibetans against China, the Communist leader said the Left parties were in full agreement with the Indian Government's stand that Tibet was a part of China.

''We follow the 'One China Policy' under which Taiwan is also a part of China. Just as we don't like anyone to interfere in our internal affairs, the Chinese also don't want interference by anyone in their internal affairs.'' On NDA Convener George Fernandes' recent statement describing China as 'Potential Threat No 1' to India, Mr Bardhan said ''Mr Fernandes is itching for a confrontation with China.'' He claimed that Mr Fernandes was hobnobbing with the Tibetans even when he was the Defence Minister in the NDA Government.

''According to us, there will be peace in the world if India and China go together.'' On how the Left parties view China's claim over Arunachal Pradesh, he said ''we don't agree with them (Beijing)...Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.'' Questioned on domestic political developments like the efforts being made by the Left parties to build a Third Front comprising non-UPA and non-NDA parties, he said ''we have not talked of a Third Front but a third alternative, which will be anti- communalism, anti-impearialism and safeguard the interests of the masses.'' He did not pay any credence to reports that the Congress was trying to get closer to the Samajwadi Party of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying these were media creation.

On the Women's Reservation Bill, he expressed disappointment with the UPA government over its 'failure' to bring the legislation in Parliament. ''We wanted the bill to be passed during the tenure of the present Lok Sabha,'' he added.

The Communist leader said the manner in which controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen was treated in India and fundamentalists opposing her were pampered had not brought any glory to the country.

''We have not covered ourselves with glory in this matter,'' the CPI leader said.

Asked if there were differences among the four Left parties, Mr Bardhan said ''differences are there...That is why we are separate entities. However, in 90 per cent cases we have common views.''


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