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Comrades flouting coalition dharma

india Updated: Aug 15, 2007 02:22 IST
Saroj Nagi
Saroj Nagi
Hindustan Times
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The Indo-US nuclear deal isn’t the only issue the Congress and Left don’t see eye to eye on. They are also deadlocked on a number of economic bills that have been kept on hold due to the communists’ reservations. These include the pension regulatory development authority, insurance, banking regulation, seeds, foreign university and competition bills. today, in a curious turn of events, the Left and BJP appear to be on the same side of the fence in rejecting the nuclear deal.
* The Left has opposed the pension regulatory development authority, insurance, banking regulation, seeds, foreign university and competition bills
* The Govt has the option of passing these bills with the help of the Opposition but has decided to put them on hold as it wants the Left parties on board

While the government could have got many of these bills passed with the help of the BJP and other Opposition parties, it did not. But today, in a curious turn of events, the Left and BJP appear to be on the same side of the fence in rejecting the nuclear deal. This despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in Parliament that the agreement takes care of all the assurances he made earlier on the floor of the House and addresses the Left’s concerns too.

“The government could have passed the economic bills with the help of the Opposition. But we did not. We are in a coalition in which the Left parties are extending support from outside. We want them on board. We would not like to pass these bills with the help of the Opposition at the cost of our allies,” said a minister.

Congress leaders acknowledge the Left’s opposition to the deal is in view of their anti-US stand. A section in the party also believes CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat’s tough stand is at variance with the more practical approach of the party’s West Bengal unit or even its parliamentary wing.

The BJP, on its part, has sought to exploit and widen the chasm between the Congress and Left by calling for a House debate on the issue that entails voting and a parliamentary ratification of the treaty — a demand Union minister Pranab Mukherjee has rejected.

“We have no intention of creating a precedent. There is no provision of ratification in the Constitution. We have conveyed this to the Left,” Mukherjee told reporters after the PM’s statement, recalling that the House was only informed when the government signed (and later terminated) the Indo-Soviet Friendship treaty or the one with Bangladesh.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi dismissed the Opposition’s efforts to project the Left as being on its side. “Coincidental similarity of views on an issue not arising from ideological commonality in no way signifies even a temporary political alliance. When political parties exist on opposite ends of the political spectrum, concurrent actions in tandem like walkout should not be imbued with any political significance. The phenomenon cannot even be described as transient bedfellows.”

Left leaders privately maintain that while they oppose the deal, they would not like to withdraw support. “We are facing a double-edged sword — we are neither in a position to support the deal, nor pull out on the issue,” said one leader.

The communists too reject the attempt to juxtapose their resistance to the nuclear deal with the BJP’s stand on the issue. “We have our own position on the deal. We have nothing to do with what the BJP does. We did not agree with the BJP when Pokhran II took place. But the Congress approved the development. We also did not agree with the NDA when it wanted to send troops to Iraq. Our opposition to the deal is genuine,” said the CPI’s D Raja.

The RSP’s Abani Roy recalled that the Left has often flagged its concerns about price rise, continuing unemployment and failure to bring pro-poor bills including those related to unorganised and agricultural labour.