The Communist Party of India (CPI), undeterred by its ally CPI (M) denying a review of Left support to the UPA government, attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on two fronts on Saturday.
Party general secretary AB Bardhan said the PM has failed to "measure up" to Left’s expectations and would have to share his part of the blame for the anti-poor economic policies that the UPA seemed to be following. He was speaking in an interview on CNN/IBN’s "Devil's Advocate" programme on Saturday evening.
Earlier in the day, Bardhan had some scathing criticism in store for the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) – the prime minister’s brainchild – for its alleged pro-US slant and demanded a complete overhauling of the Commission.
In the interview, Bardhan said Singh "can't avoid the blame" for economic policies pursued by the government and accused Finance Minister P Chidambaram of "helping only a coterie." He said the PM was very much a part of the economic policies being implemented and asserted that both the Finance Minister and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia have Singh's blessings.
"As the Prime Minister of the UPA government which we support from outside and of which we have expectations, he has not measured up to those expectations," he said.
About the NKC, the veteran Communist leader said invariably all its recommendations are pro-US or influenced by American ideas. The Commission "only invited people from US universities. I agree that the US is a knowledge-based country but is the repository of all knowledge?"
He said that only member of the Commission who was protesting against NKC policies, PM Bhargava, was dropped. "There is a need for a total reorganisation of the Commission. Most of its recommendations are faulty. For example, it only talks about English as the medium of education. What about a person’s mother tongue," he asked.
The CPI leader said that the four Left parties would meet and review their support to the UPA government after the Uttar Pradesh election. "We have extended support as a whole. So we have to discuss together as well."
For the upcoming presidential election, Bardhan clearly did not favour a second term for incumbent APJ Abdul Kalam or backing Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for the post. He also tossed up the idea of a woman president in the interview.