M A I N   N E W S

Left’s declaration on third front fuels Cong’s anger
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
The Left parties assurance that they will not move or support a no-confidence motion against the UPA government in the coming Budget session of Parliament helped ease the tension in the ruling combine, but the Congress circles are unhappy with the “soft” handling of the Marxists.

The anger in the Congress circles is fuelled by the public declaration by the Left leaders about their intention to forge a third front. Even today, in their meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the Left leaders made it clear that they will not hesitate to take the help of non-BJP parties in their ongoing opposition to the government’s foreign and economic policies.

The concerned Congress leaders maintain that though the UPA government will eventually survive the Budget session, their party’s credibility will be badly hit in the long run. There is a growing feeling in the Congress that its leadership is being far too subservient to the Left parties and is dealing with them from a position of weakness.

“It is not the Congress alone which is responsible for keeping out communal forces. The Left parties also have a responsibility in this regard,” remarked a senior Congress leader, who maintained that what the party needs today is a strong leader like Indira Gandhi who will not hesitate to tick off the Left leaders.

The Congress leaders acknowledge that the increasing strident tone of the Left parties has to be seen in the light of the coming Assembly polls in Kerala and West Bengal.

They also admit that the formation of a third front in the present Lok Sabha is not possible. But what is bothering the Congress seniors is the strategy of the Left parties to leverage their present strength as critical allies of the ruling dispensation to forge a third front for the next round of general elections. There is also a realisation that one more flashpoint could snowball into a bigger crisis given the tense relations between the Left and the Congress.

While party insiders are clearly unhappy with the government’s tendency to succumb to the pressure tactics of the Left leaders, UPA parliamentary managers are relieved that the comrades have backed off from supporting the Samajwadi Party’s proposal to move a no-confidence against the government. In fact, there are indications that neither the Left parties or the opposition are unlikely to seek a debate on any crucial issue which will require a vote.

However, this does not mean that the Parliament session, commencing on February 16, will be devoid of all fireworks. In fact, UPA managers have identified as many 27 issues on which they will face flak, both from the opposition and the Left parties.

These include India’s vote against Iran, the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Supreme Court judgement on Bihar, the Quattrochhi controversy, the ongoing Volcker investigations, modernisation of airports and FDI in retail.

With only two days to go for the session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi has already held a series of discussions with the leaders of different political parties to see that disruptions are kept to the minimum. According to the schedule, the Lok Sabha will debate the motion of thanks to the President’s address from February 20 to 23, the rail budget will be presented on February 24 and the general Budget on February 28. 


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