The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM clears air on budget

New Delhi, July 11: The CPM today said it will not destabilise the United Progressive Alliance government in or outside Parliament, scotching speculation about the Left opposing the finance bill over the decision to ease foreign investment.

“The CPM will not create any instability for the UPA government,” party leader Sitaram Yechury said after a meeting of the politburo.

The party is not planning to bring any “cut motions”, usually brought to amend certain policies in the finance bill. The party will, however, oppose any amendment proposed to the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act to raise the foreign direct investment limit from 26 to 49 per cent.

“There is nothing new about this. We had opposed the bill when it was introduced in Parliament during the NDA government. We will oppose it this time also if it is brought in Parliament for amendments,” Yechury, a politburo member, said. “The argument that more foreign capital is required for expansion in this sector does not hold ground.”

The CPM would also oppose 74 per cent FDI in telecommunications as some Indian telecom companies would then become foreign-owned and controlled, Yechury added. In civil aviation, too, the ceiling on foreign holding has been pushed up — from 40 to 49 per cent.

The politburo’s decision to keep the party’s FDI opposition under control is in keeping with the CPM’s overall positive response to the budget proposals.

The Left was not expected to put the government’s future at stake, but a flurry of statements today from some Left leaders had fuelled speculation that the finance bill could be targeted.

However, the politburo released a statement today clearing the air. “The UPA is interested in honouring the verdict of the people in the recent Lok Sabha elections and also fulfilling its commitment to the common minimum programme,” it said.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to meet the allies, including the Left, tomorrow to smooth the frictions over the budget. The FDI issue will top the agenda.

A part of the CPM strategy could be to leave the more strident protests to its trade union wing, the Citu.

“The Left trade unions will meet tomorrow to work out the form of opposition,” said Citu general secretary M.K. Pandhe.

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