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Consensus on CMP reached - Left against hire and fire, seeks to widen negative list on privatisation

Thursday 27 May 2004

Left parties had also expressed their opposition to the use of the word "flexibility" for managements in labour policies.

Our Bureau

WHILE electing the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, as the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the alliance partners today finalised the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) that will be released on Thursday.

According to UPA leaders there was "broad consensus" on the CMP at the meeting of UPA leaders.

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Kamal Narang
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, with the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the CPI (M) General Secretary, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, and the CPI (M) leader, Mr Sitaram Yechuri, at the UPA meeting in the Capital on Wednesday.

Without giving out specifics, the Left leaders said that they were satisfied with the consensus arrived at the meeting on various issues.

"By and large we would consider and endorse the CMP (when it is released tomorrow)," the CPI (M) leader, Mr Sitaram Yechuri, said.

The Left parties, led by the CPI (M) had sought several changes in the draft CMP, including broadening of the list of PSUs which would not be privatised.

While the draft CMP had mentioned certain large PSUs which broadly fell under the Navratna category where no privatisation would take place, the Left has sought that the list be widened to include even non-navratna PSUs which were profit-making.

A note prepared by the CPI (M) for the meeting had also called for a deletion of reference made to public-private partnership in infrastructure.

"There should be a clear commitment not to privatise profitable public sector units and those in the core sector, apart from the navratnas. The reference to public-private partnership in infrastructure etc. need not be there," the note said.

Left parties had also expressed their opposition to the use of the word "flexibility" for managements in labour policies though it rejected the idea of automatic hire and fire for companies.

"Protection of rights of workers involves no automatic hire and fire. Reference to flexibility for employers should be deleted. Instead, any changes in labour laws should be made after consultations with the trade unions," the CPI (M) note has said.

It had also expressed the opposition of Left parties to privatisation of public services, including distribution of power since it had a deleterious effect on the people. "Provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003 should be revised in consultation with the States," it said.

Land reforms should find a prominent space and that the Centre must get the States to implement land ceiling laws, plug loopholes and ensure distribution of surplus land to landless and rural poor.

The note has also called for the CMP to provide for strengthening of the public distribution system.

"There should be a universal PDS on the lines of the recommendations of the Committee on Long-term Grain Policy," it has said.

Earlier during the day, the CPI (M) has said that it would not sign the CMP, but would extend its support to the consensus that is arrived at.

"The Left parties will be able to broadly accept the provisions of the CMP and endorse it," the senior CPM leader, Mr Prakash Karat, said.

When asked whether they would be a signatory to the CMP, he said "the document is theirs (UPA’s). We are not a part of the UPA. We can only support or endorse it."

However, he said that his party would be part of the coordination mechanism set up between the ruling alliance and the Left.

The shape of the coordination committee would be finalised after discussions with Congress and other members of the UPA.

Reacting to the Left’s decision not to be a signatory to the CMP, the Congress spokesperson, Ms Ambika Soni, said that there was "nothing strange in the Left parties’ stand."

See online : The Hindu


in The Hindu, Thursday, May 27, 2004.

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