The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh satisfies Basu

New Delhi, Sept 18: The CPM's growing grumbles melted over a sumptuous lunch at the Prime Minister's this afternoon, with Jyoti Basu emerging 'satisfied' and Manmohan Singh unwrapping a package that brought the smiles back to its leaders' faces.

In keeping with his luncheon word that he would 'fulfil their aspirations', Prime Minister Singh announced that the education cess levied in the budget would be used to finance a non-lapsable fund for elementary education ' Prathamik Shiksha Kosh.

Hours before flying out to the UK and the US, Singh followed up yesterday's feel-good initiative with a string of policy measures while opening a website of the National Advisory Council, which has some Left sympathisers.

'I am satisfied with the meeting,' Basu said before leaving for Calcutta with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. 'We told the government it should consult us before taking important decisions, even if there are differences on these issues.'

Over the last two months, the CPM has been criticising some of the Centre's policies ' the FDI, airport privatisation, provident fund interest rate, exim policy and World Bank consultants.

But after the 90-minute lunch date, the bigwigs 'Basu, H.S. Surjeet and Sitaram Yechury ' looked satisfied. 'I told the Prime Minister we want his government to continue for five years,' Basu said, marking a shift from his recent statement that he was 'dissatisfied' with the UPA.

Basu is also believed to have suggested that the UPA-Left coordination committee should meet more often to thrash out differences, which still remained but could wait to be sorted out at a proper forum.

Singh did not forget his smaller allies either, bestowing MDMK chief Vaiko the honorific 'Mahatma Gandhi of Tamil Nadu'.

Political observers said Singh's interactions with the Left and advisory council representatives were aimed at righting the impression that he was soft on the BJP-RSS.

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