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UPA performance good in parts, says Bardhan

Sunday 15 May 2005

Special Correspondent

"In one year, a few positive achievements but a lot of failures"

- Budget allocation for rural areas increased

- Food-for-Work scheme launched

- Employment Guarantee Bill not passed

- FDI cap hiked in too many sectors

- No Bill for protection of farmers, labourers

NEW DELHI: Evaluating the performance of the United Progressive Alliance Government during the past year, the Communist Party of India has said that it was like "a curate’s apple: good in parts and rotten elsewhere."

"If we strike the balance of one year, we find there are a few positive achievements, but a lot of failures too. What finally comes out is like the curate’s apple: good in parts and rotten elsewhere," CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said in his article in the party organ, New Age.

The party said 70 per cent of the people depended on agriculture for their livelihood. The UPA Government raised the budgetary allocation for the sector and rural development besides launching the Food-for-Work scheme in 150 most backward districts and provided increased credit to farmers. "But the increase in allocation is somewhat reluctant and niggardly," he said adding that even the watered down version of the Employment Guarantee Bill could not make it in the Budget session due to the Opposition’s boycott of Parliament.

Economic measures

Stating that while a few of these were on the positive side, Mr. Bardhan said the economic measures invited opposition from the Left parties and people affected by them.

The zeal with which the UPA went ahead to raise foreign direct investment limits in telecom to 74 per cent, persisting with the idea of raising caps in the banking sector, continuing the process of disinvestment even though there was talk of reviving some sick public sector undertakings, and injecting FDI in retail trade were some of the areas of conflict.

The CPI and other Left parties, he said, were not against FDI but it should come in sectors in which it was necessary and in national interest and would generate employment; not in sensitive sectors that were vital to national security and economic sovereignty.

The Government was yet to come out with the Bill to provide comprehensive protection to agricultural unorganised workers. "There is dithering on the proposed law to protecting the rights of tribals and other forest dwellers in forestland and minor forest produce. Instead, an eviction drive is being carried on by several State Governments."

Similarly, he said, even though the Common Minimum Programme promised to review the Electricity Act, 2003, the Government was refusing to listen to the pleas of lower employees/engineers to review and was going ahead with unbundling and privatisation. "A mess has been made of this vital infrastructure industry, with power tariff going up, power shutdowns increasing, losses rising and so forth," he said.

"That is why, while continuing to support the UPA, the Left is obliged often and on to criticise, to oppose, to struggle and even come out on the streets against certain decisions of the UPA, which are not in conformity with the CMP," it said.

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