Talking about the US debt crisis and the domestic political situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh surprised a delegation of Left parliamentarians on Monday by indicating a wish to revisit his relations with them. He even declared that he “missed” the counsel that they provided when both were allies in his first four years in office.
The Left and Singh parted bitterly in 2008 over the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. After becoming the prime minister for a second term without the support of Left, Singh was asked whether he had missed the Left, to which he replied: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”.
Five CPM MPs from Kerala and politburo member Sitaram Yechury had met the PM to discuss issues related to the state and the conversation then veered towards the political situation in the country and the economic turmoil in the US. In a lighter vein the PM asked the MPs whether the CPM had decided to impeach him.
The CPM leaders told the PM that they did not doubt his integrity, to which the PM said he missed them. Also, Singh reportedly wished to revisit his relations with the Left.
A senior Congress leader later told HT that the PM's olive branch to the Left was not spontaneous but was part of a changed thinking in the party.
Further indicating the design in the move, Yechury is set to meet finance minister Pranab Mukherjee soon. A coming together is good for both the CPM and the Congress at this point.
Congress is facing opposition onslaught on several fronts and is keen to win over some new friends. Left is not comfortable with close identification with the BJP on matters of disagreement with the Congress government and is looking for nuancing its opposition accordingly.
Left has also been trying to get the focus of the political debate on issues such as inflation and price rise and an effort by the Congress leadership could at least lower the intensity of Left criticism of the government. Left has restrained itself from demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, unlike the BJP.