Manmohan Singh was doing a good job as prime minister, but his government's performance was "disappointing and worrying", said senior communist leader Sitaram Yechury in New Delhi.
"Considering the fact that the Congress does not have the culture of leading a coalition, I think Manmohan Singh is doing a good job. He is doing a fairly competent job as prime minister as he is leading a collective cabinet," Yechury said.
"But the government's performance, especially its economic policies, have been disappointing and worrying," said the Left leader, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - the leading party of the Left Front that extends crucial outside support to Manmohan Singh's government.
Yechury, known as the architect of the Left's economic agenda, also fears that the "dangers of the government would rub off" on the Left. "Dangers of the present situation are that the general discontent over the government's performance may rub off on us also."
However, the CPI-M MP is upbeat. "People are perceiving that whatever good happening in this government is happening because of us. After all, the same Manmohan Singh was the one who started the privatisation process in the country (during his tenure as finance minister in 1991-96). And today he is keeping it on hold.
"Obviously, there is a change of heart. There are programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee (the scheme to provide 100 days of work for one able bodied person in rural families). It is the only government that has brought down the price of petrol," Yechury said.
"People would also see us as responsible for something good," he added.
The CPI-M leader, however, added that the Left still prefers an anti-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alternative.
"The CPI-M always wanted a third alternative. It has to be built from the ground with those who are ready to work with us against negative impacts of economic policies and communalism.
"But it will take time. In the absence of that, we would always prefer an anti-Congress, non-BJP alternative if it can be built up before the next elections. The priority would be to keep communal forces out," he said, adding that one cannot forget that 54 of the 61 Left MPs in the Lok Sabha had defeated Congress candidates.
The CPI-M-led Left Front is in direct fight with the Congress in party-ruled states West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
Yechury, however, ruled out a third front. "We were always against a front, particularly after the UF (the United Front, which was in power in 1996-98) experience. A front is essentially a cut and paste job. Neither is it durable, nor is it credible for shifting the policy directions in the country," he said.