Reverse priorities in economy, Left to PM

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New Delhi, Oct 21 (UNI) Left parties today demanded that the Manmohan Singh government reverse its agenda of economic reforms in the backdrop of the ''shattering'' of the supremacy of Europe and America's financial system and its own assessment that the country should get ready for a temporary economic slowdown.

They said the government would have to roll back the recent hike in petrol and diesel prices, besides investing heavily in productive sectors like Agriculture and Industry to ease the price rise situation and contain inflation.

Senior leaders of the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc told UNI that the Government would have to abandon its plans for implementation of the second generation reforms. They made these observations in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's caution that '' we must be ready for a temporary slowdown in economy'' and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia's observation that ''the supremacy of European and American financial system was shattered. But in India, the state would continue to play a strategic role as envisioned by Nehru.'' CPI leaders S Sudhakar Reddy and Shamim Faizi said as the Prime Minister has realised that the Indian economy cannot be insulated from the global meltdown, ''therefore we must reverse the course which had been propogated as the only path of development.'' They said immediate steps would have to be taken to restore and delink the economy from the worldwide meltdown. CPI(M) senior leader and Chief Whip in Lok Sabha Rup Chand Pal said the PM had spoken about the crisis in the Capitalist system but ''not cautioned the system itself'' . ''This is why the government, after our withdrawal of support, has been making moves like hiking Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Insurance Sector, from 26 per cent to 49 per cent and further opening of the Pension Fund...'' he added.

Mr Pal said the other areas of concern included the depreciation of the Indian rupee and the moves to bring in reforms in the Pension and Banking Sectors. On inflation, he said though the decrease had been marginal, the situation on the food front was serious.

Forward Bloc's Central Committee Secretary G Devarajan said the Government must learn lessons from the experience of the global meltdown and not promote the speculative economy. The people would not accept now what Dr Singh or Mr Ahluwalia would say as they have been glorifying the market economy.

''The stock markets and the banks are not making money, they are simply handling the money,'' he said adding that investment in Participatory Notes (PN) would not help. ''The Government would have to shed its apathy towards Agriculture Sector on which over 80 per cent of the people still depend for livelihood.'' UNI KSA RSA RP SB KN1602

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