CPI general secretary AB Bardhan woke up to an easy morning a day after the Left Front announced its decision to withdraw support to the UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Talking to the HT in an exclusive interview, the veteran Communist leader said: “It is a bitter parting of ways with the Congress,” and “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh precipitated the situation,” and interrupted what would otherwise have been a friendly exit.
However, Bardhan does not rule out the possibility of a future arrangement with the Congress. “No rupture can be permanent…An occasion may arise again.” he said. Excerpts.
After four years of being with the Congress, do you think they played politics of deception?
We are not easily taken for a ride. In the first years of the UPA government, there were several good legislations but their economic policies have been brazenly defying our suggestions. At some point, both the UPA and Left realised it is not working — perhaps around the middle of the term.
The PM turned cold towards us and there wasn’t much communication. The UPA-Left coordination committee stopped meeting. We continued with the outside support but we have been effectively opposition.
Does that mean that you would’ve withdrawn support anyway, deal or no deal?
If they had not insisted on the deal it could not have reached this situation. But we are concerned about people’s issues and we would have raised them — inflation and neo-liberal policies for instance.
Do you regret the decision of letting the government go to the IAEA in November 2007?
No. It was a considered decision. If we had not, we would have looked stubborn and unreasonable. We did not want to be seen as merely blocking the deal, without discussing its merits and demerits.
So when did you realise that the UPA had decided to go ahead with the deal, with or without you?
In March 2008, when they refused to show us the text of the safeguard agreement we knew they were going ahead and we had to withdraw support. But the separation could have been friendly. But the Congress suddenly turned arrogant, after assured of the support of SP. The PM was regularly in touch with SP leader Amar Singh.
After June 20, it was only a question of timing, and the formulation of the June 25 meeting of the UPA-Left meeting was to enable us to part in peace.
There was anyway not going to be another meeting of the committee. But the PM’s statement mid-air changed everything. Now we are parting in bitter circumstances and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh precipitated this situation. It’s completely his making.
When the trust motion comes, will you vote against it, alongside the BJP?
We are against the government and will vote against the trust vote. Irrespective of who else is against the government.
Will you do business with the Congress ever again?
No rupture is a permanent one. An occasion may arise again….We have to fight against imperialism and communalism. Many of the UPA partners are our associates. There is no wall of separation. But the Congress is in a crisis. They will now push ahead with neo-liberal policies and a foreign policy suiting the Americans.