Post-polls, Left to review support to Govt
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Post-polls, Left to review support to Govt

CPI-M General Secy Prakash Karat says his party's success in state polls will give it more influence on Govt policies.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 18:01 IST

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday said it would review its support for the Government after assembly elections are out of the way next month.

CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat said his party hoped success in state elections this month would give it more influence on the foreign and economic policies of the Congress party-led coalition.

Karat said the Government had "shot itself in the foot" by agreeing a landmark civil nuclear deal with the United States, which he said was likely to come with many strings attached.

"It means that Americans expect you to have a quid pro quo on other issues, not just nuclear power," Karat said in an interview in his spartan office.

"We are apprehensive that this agreement will become the basis for a wider strategic alliance and, you will have to fall in line with the United States on many key issues."

The deal has yet to be ratified by the US Congress where it has been the subject of fierce debate this week, particularly over India's ties with historic ally Iran.

Under the pact, energy-hungry India would receive American nuclear technology - including reactors - while nuclear-armed India will have to separate its military and civil nuclear facilities and open up civil plants to international inspections.

Karat said he was very disappointed that India had voted to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear programme in February, and he said it was in "in our vital interest" to have a strategic partnership with Tehran.

But he refused to say if the communists would withdraw their support for the coalition over the issue.

"After these assembly elections, we will have another look at the whole political situation," the grey-haired and bespectacled politician said. "We will look at the situation afresh."

Key support

The CPI-M has 44 lawmakers in the 545-seat Lok Sabha and, along with 17 lawmakers from smaller left parties, gives the minority Government crucial support from outside the coalition.

The party and its left allies are fighting the Congress Party in three out of five states going to polls this month, with high hopes of regaining power in West Bengal for the seventh straight time and of taking power in Kerala from Congress.

Karat expressed concern over economic reforms enacted or proposed by the Government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and said communist wins in West Bengal and Kerala would be used to increase the left's leverage over the Government.

"Victory in these states will hopefully strengthen our intervention at the national level," Karat, a Master of Political Science from the University of Edinburgh, said.

Karat, in his mid-50s, is usually seen as a hardline ideologue. But he said the communist party had changed its attitude towards foreign investment and welcomed it in specific areas, such as information technology and agro-processing.

While opposing the sales of Government stakes in successful public sector companies, he said he was in favour of a "leaner" and more efficient public sector.

"You have to streamline or restructure the public sector," he said. "You may make it leaner, you could shed some of the enterprises."

The communist-led Government in West Bengal has been wooing foreign investors, particularly IT firms, to Kolkata in recent years, and has shut down some public sector enterprises it considered unviable.

These policies have formed a cornerstone of its re-election campaign this year and stand in stark contrast to its earlier anti-business stand that saw the flight of capital and business from the eastern city in the 1970s and 1980s.

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 15:33 IST