The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Birthday snub in Karat court

New Delhi, May 12: Ignored on several policy matters, the Left parties are thinking whether they should stay away from a UPA event on May 22 to celebrate one year of its governance.

The ruling alliance will mark the occasion by releasing a document outlining its achievements in keeping with the common minimum programme (CMP). The Left, however, has differences with the government over the way it is presenting its performance record.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi handed over a draft outline of the document to CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI chief A.B. Bardhan at a breakfast meeting this morning.

The draft refers to the commitments made by the alliance in the CMP and the government’s achievements. But it fails to mention several failures the Left is complaining about.

At the 50-minute breakfast at 7 Race Course Road, the Left leaders drew the coalition’s attention to these shortcomings.

Bardhan believes the Left should keep away from Sunday’s function to keep itself at a distance from the Centre’s claims and mark a separation between the government and the Left.

The CPI general secretary has suggested this to Karat. The CPM boss has told him his party will discuss this and take a decision. The leaders will attend the UPA coordination committee meeting where the appraisal document will be given final shape.

At the top of the list of the Left’s complaints is the government’s decision to introduce banking reforms. Singh told Karat and Bardhan he is willing to discuss all the financial reforms with them. “We agree that the policy should be discussed as a whole and not in bits and pieces,” said a Left leader.

The Prime Minister explained that certain petrodollar-earning countries want to keep their money in Indian banks because of their reputation for stability. But the Indian banks, Singh told the Left, have to be upgraded before that.

The other point the Left is sore about is the government’s failure to pass the tribal and forest rights bill in this session of Parliament. The CMP says: “Tribal people alienated from land will be rehabilitated. Eviction of tribal communities and forest-dwelling communities from forest land will be stopped.”

Left leaders asked the UPA leadership why it had yielded to the tiger lobby. Environmental groups and some Congress leaders had stalled the bill during this session, citing the dwindling tiger population.

Sonia agreed that tribals are the best protectors of forest land and it is the forest mafia and contractors who are destroying the jungle.

The Prime Minister promised that the tribal and forest rights bill will be brought in the monsoon session of Parliament.

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