Left statement on withdrawal of support to government

July 9th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) The four Left parties which Wednesday withdrew support to the Congress-led government issued the following statement: The Left Parties have withdrawn support to the UPA government. The UPA government came into existence in 2004 with the support of the Left parties on the basis of its Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The aim was to fight the communal forces and undo the damage they had done to the secular polity of India in their years in office.

This required a set of interlinked policies to bring relief to the people, to protect India’s integrity and to pursue an independent foreign policy. By going ahead with the deal at a time when there is the crushing burden of price rise and galloping inflation, the Manmohan Singh government has clearly shown that it is more concerned about fulfilling its commitment to the Bush administration rather than meeting its commitment to the people of India.

The Indo-US nuclear deal is against India’s vital interests. The Congress-led government has embraced a strategic alliance with the US. This dubious deal with President Bush is the centerpiece of a number of agreements like military collaboration and concessions to US capital in the retail sector, education, etc.

The nuclear deal will not provide India energy security. Since it is anchored in a US law, the Hyde Act, it will hamper an independent foreign policy and restrict our strategic autonomy.

The Manmohan Singh government is guilty of gross violation of the CMP, which does not provide for a strategic alliance with the US.

The Left parties cannot support such a course which is harmful for the people and the country’s sovereignty.

The prime minister gave assurances in parliament in August 2006 on safeguarding India’s interests in the nuclear deal. These were nullified by the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress in December 2006.

Yet, the prime minister insisted on going ahead with the negotiations on the 123 agreement despite strong opposition from the Left and other political circles. A substantial section of the scientists’ community also opposed the deal.

The prime minister has shown contempt for parliament by disregarding the clear views of the majority as expressed in the debate in the two houses of parliament in December 2007.

Now the government wants to keep the country in the dark on the so-called “India Safeguards Agreement” and proceed to seek approval of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Congress leadership has violated the understanding arrived at with the Left parties in November 2007, wherein the outcome of the talks with the Secretariat of the IAEA was to be presented to the UPA-Left Committee on the Nuclear Deal.

The text of the Safeguards Agreement was not given to the Committee to study. So, there can be no findings of the Committee on the basis of which the government can proceed further.

The prime minister has gone to the G-8 Summit in Japan and before meeting President Bush announced that the government will be going to the IAEA Board very soon. But nothing was told about this to the Left parties and the people. It has become evident to the whole country that we have a prime minister whose priority is to fulfill his commitments made to President Bush. The problems faced by the people and the country can wait.

The Congress-led government was supported by the Left parties on the basis of a commitment that it would follow an independent foreign policy in contrast to the pro-American stand of the BJP-led Government. That commitment has been violated. Hence, the Left parties will have to disassociate from the government.

The Congress leadership promised to ameliorate the conditions of the aam admi - the common people. After four years of the UPA government, the people are groaning under an unprecedented price rise. The prices of rice, wheat, edible oil, dal, vegetables and other essential commodities have all shot up. For example, between 2004 and 2008, the retail price of rice has increased by over 46 percent, wheat by 62 percent, mustard oil by 42 percent, chana dal by 47 percent and even salt by 42 percent.

The government has increased the prices of petrol and diesel seven times in the last four years. Petrol has gone up between 2004 and 2008 by 50 percent, diesel by 60 percent and LPG by 58 percent.

The government has refused the Left parties’ demands to universalise the Public Distribution System, so that everyone has a ration card; stop forward trading on essential commodities; curb hoarding and speculators; reduce the tax burden on petroleum products; and impose windfall taxes on private refineries.

By pursuing a neo-liberal agenda, the Congress-led government is following the same policies of the previous BJP government. These policies are squarely responsible for the distressing spectacle of agrarian crisis, farmers’ suicides, mass poverty, price rise and unemployment. This is in stark contrast to the obscene growth of billionaires and the super rich.

The Congress is determined to go ahead with a further rightwing shift in both foreign and domestic policies. This situation is providing fertile ground for the communal forces.

Since the Congress-led government is wilfully disregarding the CMP, the Left parties have decided to withdraw support from such an anti-people government.

With the withdrawal of support by the Left parties, the government has lost its majority and legitimacy.

The prime minister must face the Lok Sabha and seek a vote of confidence.

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