Left brushes UPA with NDA paint

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New Delhi, May 20: Having kept it alive for four years with outside support, the Left today branded the Congress-led UPA government as "no different" from its predecessor NDA government on the economic and foreign policy fronts. Expressing unhappiness over the performance of UPA government, saying it did not come up to people's expectations, CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said, the UPA government did not bring about any change in the direction of policies pursued by the previous NDA government."

It just followed the NDA's policies in economic and foreign policy spheres." On Indo- US nuclear deal which the Left has been opposing, CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia warned of "political crisis" if the government went ahead with clinching it. The Marxist leader said Left parties, at their joint meeting here on May 23, will further review performance of the UPA government and take appropriate position.

The meeting, to be held a day after completion of four years of the government, will also debate how effective the Left has been in playing the role of the Opposition by keeping the BJP away from occupying it as well as of keeping the government alive even while keeping it on tight leash.

Evaluating its 4 years in office as "indifferent and disastrous", Mr Bardhan charged the UPA government with presiding over record inflation, agrarian crisis and mortaging the country's independent policy to the US strategic interests.

However, he said Left parties will not allow communal forces to exploit people's discontent with the government for deriving political beniftis. The UPA government has now only one year left to deliver to win back confidence of the people by working for the poor, lower and middle classes who had given it the mandate to govern for five years, he added.

The Left leaders said Congress-led coalition has failed in fulfilling promises and commitments made in the common minimum programme(CMP). Mr Faizi, however, said some "good work" done by the government has been overshadowed by rise in prices of essential commodities, farmers' suicides, slwodown in industrial prodction and food insecurity.

Mr Faizi lauded the UPA government's initial thrust in undoing "anti-secular" actions of the NDA government. He showered encomiums on the Human Resource Development ministry for strengthening the secular fabric of education. Similar steps were taken by the Culture Ministry to prevent penetration of communal agenda, he added. He also patted the UPA government for enacting various positive legislations, including national rural employment guarantee scheme, right to information act, law against domestic violence, tribal rights on forest land and granting inheritance rights to daughters in parental property.

The CPI leader said it was the Left pressure which restrained the government from going ahead with liberalising labour laws, foreign direct investment in insurance sector, handing over of private banks to foreign players and allowing private players to manage a part of provident fund for investment in stock market.

But unfortunately, the UPA government thereafter went ahead with pursuing the liberal economic agenda with the same vigour that was witnessed during the NDA regime. This is borne out by recent announcement by Finance Minister P Chidambaram to divest ten per cent equity in profit-making public sector enterprises, he said, adding ten per cent of small saving fund of people were also on block for investment in stock market. However, earlier Nalco and other 'navratnas'were spared of disinvestment blues due to boycott by the Left of the UPA-Left Coordination panel, he added.

"Overall, the UPA government is like a Nelson's apple which is good in parts but most of it is rotten," Mr Faizi said.

Mr Bardhan said government's liberal economic agenda has created an island of affluence amid allround poverty in the country where 77.4 per cent people live on less than Rs 20 a day.

"The government has failed miserably to contain inflation ....farmers' suicides are continuing due to agrarian crisis, industrial production has come down to a low of 3 per cent," Mr Bardhan said, alleging "this is the direct fallout of government ignoring the Left suggestions." Charging the Manmohan Singh government with having not only diluted the country's independent foreign policy by deviating from the path of non-alignment, the veteran Communist leader alleged it rather chose to toe the US imperialist designs.

Asked how long the government will last, the CPI leader quipped," We are already in the election year. It matters little whether the polls are held in April-May or a few months earlier." Calling the Left role as that of 'check-and-balance' on the government, Forward Bloc general secretary Debvrat Biswas said it was their pressure that forced the government to seek 'sense of the House' on India-US nuclear agreement though it is not mandatory for a government to seek Parliament approval of international treaties.

However, he held the hope that this government will run its full term but wanted it to implement the CMP.


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