M A I N   N E W S

Left parties meet today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 12
Left parties would meet here tomorrow to formally decide on resuming participation in the meetings of the UPA Coordination Committee, which they have been boycotting after the government decided to dilute its stake in BHEL which has now been put on hold.

The meeting of the left parties comes in the wake of a letter to them by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi conveying the government’s decision that the BHEL disinvestment had been kept in abeyance.

The parties are likely to formalise their response to the letter at the meeting tomorrow, sources said. They described the government’s BHEL move as the “first major violation” of the CMP.

They wanted the government to adhere to the CMP, which spoke of strengthening profit-making PSUs instead of privatising these. The other issues on which the left has been expressing reservations include those relating to FDI in various sectors, including retail trade and the move towards privatisation and dilution of government stake in PSUs.

But the sources said the parties, providing crucial support to the government from outside, are likely to favour resuming participation in the coordination committee in order to effectively raise their differences at that forum.

The communists have demanded that New Delhi should ask the US and European Union at the upcoming WTO meet to reduce support to their farm sector if they wanted concessions from emerging economies.

“Unless this (trend of subsiding farm production) is corrected, rich countries can continue to dole out heavy subsidies to their farmers that will be detrimental to farmers from developing countries,” the four left parties said in a draft note on World Trade Organisation issues.

The note, which is being given the final touches, said India should demand “reduction in total producer support to agriculture in the US and EU in return for any concession that developing countries may offer”.

In a related development, the government today said India had successfully safeguarded its market access concerns in agriculture by rejecting the tariff reduction formulae proposed by the US-Australia and the European Union at the WTO Trade Ministers meeting in Zurich.


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