Strike date the same but no unity
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- Published 30.06.10
New Delhi, June 29: Left, BJP and some non-Congress parties have called a Bharat bandh on July 5 against the Centre’s “failure” to rein in prices, but the common date appeared more to do with “not keeping quiet” on a bread-and-butter issue.
Leaders of several of these parties conceded it wasn’t a show of unity against the Congress and none was out to invoke the spirit of 1977 or 1989 when the Left and its erstwhile rivals toppled Indira Gandhi after the Emergency and later Rajiv Gandhi over Bofors.
“Logically, no party would want to keep quiet on a livelihood issue,” said CPI secretary and Rajya Sabha MP D. Raja. “We are not fighting for political power. If we chose a common date, it is because we do not want to inconvenience people with constant strikes.”
The BJP-led NDA and the Left made separate announcements for the strike to protest the “unjustified” hike in petroleum prices.
NDA convener Sharad Yadav said the strike had not been called under a common banner because there were “far too many contradictions”.
Observers said ideology, politics and mutual distrust had come in the way of what might have been passed off as a show of unity that is sure to cripple Left-ruled Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
If the so-called secular-communal divide had precluded a Left-BJP alliance ahead of the Bengal and Kerala elections next year, mutual rivalries pre-empted the Samajwadi Party and the BSP from sharing a platform.
More important, no party wants a general election now because all of them are fighting with their backs to the wall to save their regional turf.
Only the BJP expressed a desire to be accepted as part of a larger anti-Congress front.
“The floor co-ordination you saw in the last session (of Parliament) is being reflected outside,” spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said. “The mood is to combat the Congress.”
Sources said the BJP joined the “bandh” bandwagon as a “me too” afterthought. Till yesterday, its leaders had been saying they would stage rallies on July 1 and 2.
This morning, the party’s core committee decided the BJP should be part of the national strike the Left had yesterday declared it planned to call.
CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury said the Left had taken an “independent” decision. “We have only aligned with secular forces like the Telugu Desam Party, ADMK and the Biju Janata Dal,” the Rajya Sabha MP told The Telegraph.
Yechury emphasised the Left was not even dealing with its former friends from the “secular” Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad’s RJD after their leaders had let them down on the cut motions in the Parliament session.
However, Lalu Prasad is believed to have conveyed to CPM leaders that he is willing to be part of the endeavour despite the presence of Bihar rival Janata Dal (United) because he didn’t want to be “isolated” on a populist issue.
Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to review the fuel price hike and “withhold the decision”.
“This hike in prices of petroleum products will not only immediately and directly increase the cost of transportation, from mass transit vehicles to goods vehicles, but will also have a cascading effect on the cost of production in agriculture and industry, and will further enhance the rate of inflation,” the letter said.