Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: The Left has a “negative mindset”.
CPI chief A.B. Bardhan: Yes, the PM is right. This mindset saved the country.
Firepower returned to the Left-Congress slanging match on Saturday, the first time the Prime Minister and top Left leaders snapped back at one another on a single day since they broke up over the nuclear deal in July last year.
“Yes, the Prime Minister is right. We did play a negative role and we are proud. These negative activities have been responsible for protecting India’s economy and sovereignty,” CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said, releasing a joint appeal for an alternative government.
While launching the Congress manifesto, Singh’s jibe at the Left was: “When countries want to embrace India and the world wants India to move forward, parties like the CPI(M) wants to abrogate the nuclear deal.”
CPI(M) chief Prakash Karat retorted: “We did not offer support to the Congress so that the Prime Minister could strike a nuclear deal with the US.”
Bardhan then attacked the PM for singling out the CPI(M): “The Congress wants to isolate the CPI(M) and attack it. Truth is, the Left stands united.”
As if on cue, he then bandied about the Left’s role: “They wanted to privatise banks. Yes, we negated it. They wanted FDI in retail to kill Indian businesses. Yes, we negated it. The Prime Minister has finally admitted to our role that protected this country.”
The Congress manifesto accused the Left of violating “discipline, restraint and sobriety so very essential for running a coalition smoothly”. Bardhan said the Congress had violated the very common minimum programme.
The Congress manifesto also accused the Left of strengthening the BJP by breaking away from the Congress. Karat’s response: “The Congress has failed to fight the BJP in all states, whereas in all Left-ruled states, the BJP doesn’t even have a single MP.”