India Inc wants Left in Govt - Hindustan Times
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India Inc wants Left in Govt

PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
May 14, 2004 11:46 AM IST

Apprehensive about new Govt?s economic policies, particularly if allies include Left, India Inc feels such a Govt would work only if Left parties are part of treasury benches.

As a Congress-led coalition gets ready to form the next government, industry representatives are not too sure of what lies ahead on issues like labour reforms and disinvestments, particularly if the allies include the Left.

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Such a government would work only if the Left parties are part of the treasury benches and take up responsibility, industry feels.

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"Given the experience of the United Front government (1996-98), the Congress-led coalition would only work if the Left parties are part of the government and don't just lend support from outside," said Omkar Goswami, a corporate consultant and economist.

"It remains to be seen if they will be in the treasury benches or outside." While the image of the Left parties has received a boost in recent years with the West Bengal government having adopted investor-friendly reforms and with good results, Goswami said the same would work at the centre only if the Left undertakes more responsibility.

"Anybody who holds the reins of the government becomes responsible. As such the Left should be in the cabinet and hold ministerial portfolios if the coalition is to work and economic reforms are to move," Goswami

YK Modi, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and a leading industrialist, shared similar sentiments.

He felt that though the image of the Left parties had undergone a change with their economic reforms in West Bengal and Kerala, the same could happen at the centre if the alliance partners took up responsibilities within the government.

"There should be no backseat driving and everyone has to have a stake in the government. In the case of the Left, given that their reforms in West Bengal have resulted in attracting investments, I see no problems in the centre including disinvestments plans," Modi said.

Industry experts feel that a coalition with the Left would provide a more stable government considering that there would be fewer pulls in different directions than in the earlier National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

BB Bhattacharya, director of the Institute of Economic Growth, said: "As the Congress and its allies have got a clear lead, they would need only the Left with 62 seats to form the government.

"Contrary to fears, they may be good coalition partners than in the past as the Left is no longer that Left while the Congress has also switched from the Right to the Centre."

According to Bhattacharya, the new government would have to focus more on areas like employment generation, accessible education and rural sectors - some major areas of neglect that have pulled down the economic growth in the last five years.

As against the average of 6.2 per cent during Congress rule in the early nineties, NDA's rule saw a much lower growth of 5.1 per cent. Even that was possible only due to the 8.1 per cent growth in 2003-04, the economist pointed out.

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