The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Don't rock Delhi, Basu tells party

Calcutta, Jan. 9: Jyoti Basu today asked the CPM leadership to be patient with Manmohan Singh's United Progressive Alliance government over its implementation of the common minimum programme.

On the second day of the CPM central committee meeting, Basu, a veteran politburo member, argued that it would be best if the Congress-led regime, which has just completed eight months in office, is not rushed into implementing the pledges in the programme.

'We may have to be (little more) patient with the Congress because the situation requires them to find bearings in many areas,' a CPM official quoted Basu as saying. 'But we have to keep the pressure on'

The minimum programme was drawn up keeping the allies' interests in mind after the Congress-led front wrested power at the Centre from the BJP-led NDA.

Basu's shouldn't-rock-the-boat statements came on a day when central committee members like Citu leader, Rajya Sabha member Chittabrata Majumdar and Lok Sabha MP Mohammad Salim expressed concern over rising prices of essential commodities and advocated a tough stand on the central alliance.

Like Basu, another politburo member, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, is opposed to the hard line.

'We are concerned about the rising prices, but we have not yet decided on the line of approach,' said Sitaram Yechury, also a politburo member.

Observers, however, believe that the position being pushed by conservatives like Majumdar could be seen in the context of the seat-sharing exercise in poll-bound Bihar and Jharkhand, where the Left parties are a relatively small force with low bargaining power.

Day-II witnessed intense discussions on the CPM's seat sharing with the Congress and other parties for the February elections. Seat sharing in Chhattisgarh, which is also going to polls at the same time, was not discussed as the party's state unit is yet to despatch its report on the equations there.

The CPM, which had eight months ago expressed reservations about the induction of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav into the Union cabinet, today said it still regards him as the only viable counter to communal forces in Bihar.

Yechury said: 'We may have differences, but we cannot imagine a combine against the communal forces without Yadav. We are in talks with him on seats' something definitive will emerge soon.'

In Bihar, the RJD has allotted three seats to the CPM, but the party is trying to wangle at least three more. Yechury said: 'We are still discussing... We may get a few more.'

Some of his colleagues were not as optimistic. 'It is amazing,' said a central committee member from Bengal. 'Though Laloo Prasad is facing a CBI probe and needs our support to fend off pressure from within the central alliance, he is cold-shouldering us.'

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