M A I N   N E W S

UPA, Left rift widens
Only agree to fight communal forces
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The seven-hour-long UPA-Left Coordination Committee meeting today ended on a discord note with the Communists disassociating with the Congress-led coalition’s assessment of the performance of Manmohan Singh government during the past one year.

UPA, in a statement, claimed, “Those present at the meeting expressed overall satisfaction and resolved to move forward even more purposefully to implement their collective political, social and economic agenda as embodied in the National Common Minimum Programme.”

While the AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni, briefing reporters on the Coordination Committee meeting, claimed that it was a joint statement of all those present at the meeting, CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat, striking a dissent note, said “This is an assessment of the UPA and not that of the Left parties.”

In a dissenting statement, CPM said, “As far as the assessment of the one year of the UPA government is concerned, the Politburo of the CPM has already made an assessment in its meeting held on May 14 and 15.”

The Politburo criticised that “Hardly any legislation which addresses the needs of the vast masses of the poorer section in our country has been moved in Parliament in this one year by the UPA government.”

“The UPA government is not sufficiently concerned about the need to distance itself from the discredited policies of the past. There is an entrenched system of thought and personnel that believe neo-liberal reforms are the way to take the country forward.”

The only point with which Karat agreed with the UPA statement was, “The UPA partners and the Left parties reaffirmed their resolve to confront and combat communal forces and strengthen the secular pillars of the Indian state.”

Karat said the Coordination Committee meeting was useful, as it gave an “overall view of the performance of the UPA government in the past one year. Certain concerns of the Left parties were also raised in the course of the meeting.”

Ambika Soni claimed that the meeting was held in a “very cordial and friendly atmosphere with no discordant note at the meeting.” She said Congress President Sonia Gandhi was optimistic that the Left parties would come around and agree to participate in the UPA’s anniversary party on May 22.

The Left parties have distanced themselves from the anniversary bash claiming it to be the celebration of the UPA government and “we are not part of this government....we are only supporting from outside.”

The UPA statement said the committee underscored the criticality of the recently announced Bharat Nirman programme in bringing prosperity to our country’s villages. It also appreciated the launch of the rural health mission, the national horticulture mission, and the national urban renewal mission.

It emphasised the need to fully empower panchayats as the key to Bharat Nirman, ensure gender equality and extend social security to workers in the unorganised sector. It rededicated itself to pursue transparency, accountability, and probity in administration.

Ambica Soni said the meeting was convened to prepare the progress report of the UPA government to be released on May 22 on the completion of one year of the Congress-led coalition government in office.

She said there were several demands for ordering the CBI probe into six major Gujarat riot cases, in which even the Supreme Court had also asked for trial outside the state.

Earlier, during the presentation of achievements of respective ministries, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, too, had faced insistent Left leaders, who kept demanding CBI inquiry into six cases related to the post-Godhra Gujarat violence, the sources said.

Trying to placate them, the Home Minister explained that it was not wise to order all cases to be investigated by the Central agency. He pointed out that the government had already ordered CBI inquiry into the Centaur sale deal, which the Left had been demanding.

But unrelenting in their demand, the Left leaders pointed to the recent statement made by former Gujarat Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari and the Supreme Court strictures against the Narendra Modi government as the reasons for the CBI probe.

Ambica Soni also said some of the Left members expressed their views on the resumption of arms supply to Nepal.

The CPM Politburo had criticised the UPA government for reversing its decision to suspend the military supplies to the Nepalese armed forces. “The UPA government should not be seen to be siding with the King against the democratic and popular forces,” it said.

The Congress leader said the DMK leader M Karunanadhi demanded early settlement of water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, amendment to the Constitution to enable the states to determine the quantum of reservation to be given in a particular state and also amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act.

The Politburo had stated that no legislation had been proposed for unorganised workers, adding that in this way the needs of the poor of the country had not been met. Other areas that came under criticism were the financial policies of the UPA government. It said privatisation of pension funds is not acceptable.

The Left had also rejected the increase in FDIs or foreign direct investments and they said that successive hikes in the prices of petroleum products in the last one-year had adversely affected the common people.

The day-long discussion, she said was held on a six structured themes: agriculture, rural development and panchayati raj; education, health and nutrition; empowerment of weaker sections; internal security; infrastructure and economic growth and defence and foreign policy.

When asked whether there was any demand of resignation of Railway Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, following the framing of charges against in a fodder scam case, she said, “the issue never came up.”

All UPA members and the four Left parties attended today’s meeting. Besides Dr Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Oil Minister Mani Shankar Iyer, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and DMK chief Karunanidhi were among others who were present.

The Left parties were represented by CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and his CPI counterpart A B Bardhan, CPM Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechuri, CPI secretary D Raja, Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas and RSP Rajya Sabha member Abani Roy.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |