Debating India

ELECTIONS 2004

Now, Left wants to wash its hands of Mulayam

Rajesh RAMACHANDRAN

Thursday 20 May 2004, by RAMACHANDRAN*Rajesh

NEW DELHI: CPM leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet’s relentless batting for the Samajwadi Party and coming forward to take Amar Singh along to Sonia Gandhi’s dinner on Sunday without an invite has been a cause of worry for Left leaders.

Though no one wants to openly question the veteran CPM leader’s decision, it has nevertheless become a source of some discord in the otherwise cohesive Left Front. Surjeet’s actions had led to a perception that the SP was a probable Left Front nominee in the government.

"We decided to stay out of the government and we don’t have any proxy nominees in the Congress-led government. Since when has SP become a member of the Left Front? Nobody should be included in the Union Cabinet as a representative of the Left," said a Left Front leader on Wednesday.

Immediately after the results, CPM took a formal position that all those who contributed to BJP’s defeat should be part of the government. This gave ample leeway to SP to maneouvre its way into Surjeet’s entourage. But senior CPM leaders now clarify that they have no nominees and would not interfere in Congress’ portfolio allocation.

SP and particularly Amar Singh had consistently attacked CPM since the SP government assumed power in Lucknow retaining a BJP MLA as Speaker. SP did not leave a single seat to CPM to contest in Uttar Pradesh.

But after the poll results relegated SP to the margins of decision-making, it began tagging along with CPM, gate-crashing twice at crucial meetings, the last incident being Tuesday’s meeting between CPM and Congress leaders when they called on Surjeet to convey Gandhi’s decision to decline the President’s invite to form a government.

The Left Front, with 62 MPs in the new Lok Sabha, is the second largest combination in the alliance that is supporting the Congress-led government. CPI was in favour of joining the government, but bowed to the bigger partner CPM’s decision to stay out.

The Left partners which decided to keep away from the government do not want a party that had nothing to do with the Left till the polls to be granted the status of the Left’s nominee. In fact, many CPM workers share other Left parties’ reservations on Surjeet actions.

See online : The Times of India

P.S.

in The Times of India, Thursday, May 20, 2004.

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