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'Left should not have withdrawn UPA support'

CPI general secretary AB Bardhan now says the Left should not have withdrawn support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2008 over the Indo-US nuclear deal and instead thought of a more "popularly convincing reason" for parting ways with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government.

delhi Updated: Jun 25, 2010 11:41 IST

Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary AB Bardhan now says the Left should not have withdrawn support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2008 over the Indo-US nuclear deal and instead thought of a more "popularly convincing reason" for parting ways with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government.

He also described the recent municipal poll results in West Bengal as "big setbacks" and said the Left will "draw lessons" from its failures.

"Nuclear deal was an issue the common people could not understand. If we had withdrawn support on the issue of soaring prices of essential commodities and the problem of growing debts of farmers forcing them to commit suicide, people would have understood our stand better and supported us," Bardhan said in an exclusive interview to IANS.

Asked whether the Left withdrew support to the UPA in haste, Bardhan said he did not feel so. "It was not the decision to withdraw or the timing which was wrong. We could have decided on a popularly convincing reason for resigning. That would have been a better tactical step."

The Left parties had withdrawn outside support to the four-and-a half year-old UPA I government on Aug 9, 2008 after disagreement over the Indo-US nuclear deal. A day earlier, the Left leaders including Bardhan had held a meeting in New Delhi and decided to withdraw support to the government.

Regarding the defeat of the Left Front in the recent civic polls in West Bengal, Bardhan said: "Yes it is shocking. It is worse than we had expected." However, electoral ups and downs were not unusual to the Left politics, argued the 84-year-old Communist leader. "But the results in West Bengal were big setbacks. Because we have been ruling the state for more than three decades."

According to the CPI leader, over the years the Left cadres "lost contact with the people leading to the election defeats."

Did he mean his party workers too? Bardhan said: "When I say the Left workers, those include the CPI cadres too."

"In Communist terminology, a sort of reduction in the conduct of class struggles has led the Left in the West Bengal to this slide," Bardhan said. However, the Left was not a spent force, he argued. "We will draw lessons from the failures of the past. We will try to restore our credibility with the people through mass struggles and co-ordinated work in the next nine months before the assembly polls."

Bardhan said the industrial policy in West Bengal, especially regarding the acquisition of land for industrial units, was a major reason for the Left defeat. "Of course, industrialisation is a need of the hour. But, we have to create a favourable atmosphere among the public before acquiring agricultural land or displacing farmers for setting up industrial units."

The CPI leader told IANS: "I admit the land acquisition methods in Singur, Nandigram and other industrial sites in West Bengal have boomeranged on us. The Left parties were known as land givers to the landless and the marginal farmers. Because of the recent controversies in West Bengal, we have been branded as land takers."

Bardhan viewed the functioning of UPA II, which does not have the backing of the Left, as "directionless". He said: "Each minister is working in his own way, many times at cross-purposes with the others. He said the "absence of a common minimum programme (CMP) for the UPA II has weakened the government".

He claimed the checks and balances applied by the supporting Left parties had helped the UPA I government to adopt prudent economic policies. "Now, there is a reckless programme of privatisation and liberalisation. Inflation is rising and prices are soaring. We foresee a finacial crisis if the UPA II proceeds with similar policies," Bardhan said.