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Left conveys concern over Centre’s decisions

Tuesday 14 February 2006

Special Correspondent

To insist on debate in Parliament on the Iran nuclear issue

Calls for a full discussion on the implications on vote on Iran "Stand on Iran has nothing to do with the minorities"

NEW DELHI: The Left parties on Monday conveyed "deep concern" at the manner in which the Manmohan Singh Government had gone ahead with important policy decisions, and said that they would insist on a debate in Parliament on the Iran nuclear issue.

"People should know how Parliament looks at the Iran nuclear issue. The Government should heed the voice of Parliament at the March 6 meeting [of the International Atomic Energy Agency]. What the Government does, we would take stock after that," Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said. He was addressing mediapersons at a briefing by the Left parties after the coordination committee meeting with the United Progressive Alliance.

Vote at IAEA

The Government had voted with the United States and the European Union-3 in the IAEA Board, preparing the ground for referral to the Security Council. There was, therefore, a need for a full discussion on the implications. The Left parties were clear that if the Government voted against Iran, they would mark their protest in an effective manner.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee explained the Government stand vis-?-vis Iran and sought to know the nature of discussion sought by the Left parties in Parliament.

The Left leaders said their approach was not related to the coming elections in West Bengal and Kerala. Their stand on Iran had nothing to do with the minorities, and their attitude would be the same even if Iran consisted of people from another community.

"Unproductive exercise"

Mr. Karat said the Left parties had told the UPA that during the past 20 months, they had submitted 19 notes on a range of issues. But in their assessment, the exercise was not as productive as it should have been. (In a separate briefing, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the effort was to reduce the areas of disagreement and enlarge the areas of agreement.)

The Left leaders said the Government had decided to hand over the Delhi and Mumbai airports to private companies even though there were serious questions about the bidding process. Similarly, on foreign direct investment in retail trade, the Government’s decision to allow 51 per cent for single brand category was taken despite the Left’s opposition.

The Left parties told the UPA that they would be raising these issues both inside and outside Parliament and also talk to other parties.

Mr. Karat, who met Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Saturday, said the latter did not mention any move to bring in a no-confidence motion against the Congress-led Government.

Growth of BJP

The Left parties also conveyed their views on the current political situation, and how in the popular perception, the image of the Government was getting affected.

They referred to the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party in States such as Bihar and Karnataka.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the party had agreed to all the demands of the Janata Dal (Secular) to save the coalition government in Karnataka but the alliance partner chose to move away.

Besides Dr. Manmohan Singh, Ms. Gandhi, and Mr. Mukherjee, the UPA was represented by Union Ministers P. Chidambaram, Shivraj Patil, and Prithviraj Chavan. Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, was also present.

Mr. Karat and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja (CPI), and Abani Roy (RSP) represented the Left parties.

See online : The Hindu

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