The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karat keeps finger on trigger
- Left boss warns his party might review support if UPA goes the NDA way

Lucknow, June 28: CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today warned that his party could review support to the Congress-led coalition at the Centre if it becomes “another NDA government”.

“Our differences are growing. We are trying to sort out the differences. But we certainly don’t want another NDA government which used to appease only 10 per cent of the people'. If UPA goes the NDA way, we will be in no mood to carry on supporting the government,” he said.

Karat was making a presentation at the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan on One Year of the UPA Government at the Centre.

The CPM leader said governments at the Centre have collapsed in the past, but never because of any Left party. “But now the CPM will have to work very responsibly, highlighting people’s issues and keeping up our efforts to work for an alternative.” Karat added that the Left support, which is crucial to keeping the UPA government in power, cannot be taken for granted.

The Left parties are angry about the oil price rise and the proposed divestment of 10 per cent government stake in Bhel. A meeting of Left leaders with the Prime Minister is expected after Sonia Gandhi, who heads the UPA, returns from a short break in Himachal Pradesh this week.

If differences between the government and the people persist, the CPM and other Left parties would side with the people, he added.

Karat claimed that oil prices were raised not because international crude prices were rising but because of some provisions in the budget.

“What has shocked us is the case of Bhel'. Bhel has assets running into Rs 10,000 crore and it earns a profit of Rs 5,000 crore. What is the need for its sale'” he asked. The Left is opposed to divestment of profit-making public sector units.

Karat fought back attacks that the Left has one policy for Bengal and another for the nation. “Let me clarify that we don’t have separate policies. They (critics) are saying we are selling Great Eastern Hotel and we are opposing (the divestment of) Bhel. But it is strange that such a comparison has been made at all. Great Eastern Hotel sale has been cleared because it was making huge losses,” he said.

Some other parties allege that the Left had insisted oil prices be raised only after the June 19 elections to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation polls, he said. “This is stupid.”

The Bengal government has evolved a policy to reconstruct sick units and the Centre should do the same, he said, categorising industries into different groups before taking up their reconstruction and reinvestment.

But along with the brickbats, Karat also handed a bouquet to the government, praising it for its handling of foreign policy. “Tension has come down across the border. We have regained some of the self respect in our relations with countries because we have discarded the US-centric foreign policy of NDA. These initiatives have to be kept up.”

Some extra spending has been earmarked for health and education, but it is not enough, he said.

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