M A I N   N E W S

Left seeks debate on Iran issue
CPM to discuss support to UPA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 5
The UPA government embarked on a damage-control exercise with the Left parties and the NDA strongly opposing India’s stand on the Iran nuclear issue and a CPM Politburo meeting this week slated to discuss the question of outside support to the Manmohan Singh government.

NDA convener George Fernandes termed New Delhi’s vote at the IAEA meet as “against national interests,” and had a dig at Communists by stating that “if they do not reconsider support to this government, it will be too late to reverse the anti-national course this government has chosen.”

In a damage-control exercise, the Congress said a UPA-Left Coordination Committee meeting would be held before the Budget session, in an apparent move to avoid embarrassment to the Manmohan Singh government on the floor of the House during the session.

Party spokesperson Rajiv Shukla told The Tribune that the meeting was likely to be held on February 8.

Asked whether the Congress agreed with the Left parties’ demand for formulating India’s stand for March during a debate in Parliament, a hesitant Shukla said, “How can that be…. the Left parties have only made such a demand today, we have to apply our mind.”

He said not just the Iran issue, but a host of other issues, including economic policies, would be discussed at the coordination committee meeting.

Mr Shukla said efforts would be made to find an amicable solution to the issues through dialogue before the Budget session of Parliament.

CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters after a meeting of the four Left parties that “the stand taken by India is not in conformity with the pursuit of an independent foreign policy and the maintenance of good relations with Iran, which is in our national interests.

He said, “India should not be party to any referral to the Security Council nor countenance any recommendation for taking action through the United Nations Security Council.

“Yesterday’s vote was not a decisive one ...and we are not making it an issue, Karat said, adding: “We are demanding a full debate in the forthcoming session of Parliament ahead of the next meeting of the IAEA in March, which is crucial, on what stand India should take at the meeting. The government should remember that there is no consensus on the issue in the country.”

Lashing out at the BJP, Mr Karat said the best thing about the Iran vote was that it had made the saffron party realise the need for an independent foreign policy. He also hit out at the BJP for “doing everything” to undermine India’s independent foreign policy in the past, especially selling out to the US on every issue.

Reports quoting Mr Anil Biswas, CPM Politburo member and general secretary of the party’s West Bengal unit, said that in the Politburo meeting in Kolkata the issue of continuing support to the UPA government would be seriously discussed.

The Revolutionary Socialist Party and the All India Forward Bloc were of the view that the Left parties should review their support to the Manmohan Singh government as it had been continuing with the economic reform agenda despite opposition from the supporting allies.

The CPM Politburo meeting on February 9 and 10 would finalise the strategy to be adopted by the party to corner the government during the Budget session, especially in view of the Assembly poll in West Bengal and Kerala later this year.

On economic matters, the Left parties expressed deep concern at the manner in which the Congress-led government was going ahead with the policies of privatisation and the recourse to FDI in certain vital sectors, even though some of these policies were contrary to the CMP.

“The policy of privatisation carried out by the government will have serious consequences for the country and its economy,” Mr Karat said, adding that the meeting took stock of the airport employees’ strike against privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports.

They also decided to discuss the matter within their own parties and take up the issue at the next meeting of the Left parties.

However, there were differences within the four Left parties on continuing support to the government as the UPA has been going ahead with the economic reform agenda despite strong opposition from the Communists.

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