The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left sends distance signal

New Delhi, Feb. 5: Stung by the double reverse of airport privatisation and the Iran vote, the Left has turned down an invitation from the Prime Minister to attend a meeting of the coordination committee it has with the ruling alliance this Tuesday to discuss the two issues.

It is possible that the two controversies could lead to the Left parties quitting the coordination committee to distance themselves from the government’s policies.

The Left’s official excuse for not attending the meeting is that they are “busy and do not have the time”. Unofficially, its leaders say they see no reason for being a part of the coordination committee when the government refuses to heed its suggestions.

The common minimum programme (CMP), they say, has become redundant. “Each time the government engages us in a decision, but goes its own way,” a leader said.

At a meeting of the Left parties in Delhi today, the leaders decided that the apex decision-making body of each would separately discuss the future course of action. The CPM politburo will meet in Calcutta on Thursday.

All Left parties will then meet and work out a common strategy. In Parliament, the Left will seek a full-fledged debate on the Centre’s decision to vote for reporting Iran to the UN Security Council and side with the US and the western powers, but also with Russia and China.

The Left is still ruling out withdrawal of support to the government because of political compulsions to keep the BJP out. They do not have too many options to deal with a government which, they say, is looking more and more determined to go ahead with its policies, irrespective of the Left’s objections.

Faced with the lack of options, they are thinking of distancing themselves from the government.

“We can refuse to be a part of any coordination committee. This means we will not be involved in any decision-making processes of the government,” said a senior Left leader.

Bengal and Kerala Assembly elections could add to the tension since the Left and the Congress would face each other as adversaries. At the same time, conflict between the two may not be such a bad thing before the polls.

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