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Scrap divestment policy: Left parties

Last updated on: May 14, 2004 12:35 IST

As speculation mounted over whether the Left parties would join the new Congress-led government, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Communist Party of India on Friday made it clear that the pro-active divestment policies should be scrapped.

After an informal meeting of leaders belonging to the two parties, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said that new government has to do away with the policy of divestment of public sector undertakings.

"Obviously it goes without saying that the policy of divesting PSUs should go," he told reporters when asked whether the divestment policy has to go if the Left were to participate in the new government.

Echoing similar views, CPI-M General Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet said: "We cannot afford it (the divestment programme followed by the National Democratic Alliance). We oppose the divestment of profit-making PSUs. All the mistakes of the NDA government have to be rectified.

"This divestment policy has seriously harmed the country. The present mandate is a reflection of people's verdict on the wrong economic policies of the NDA government. This policy has to be changed."

Bardhan also said the new parties in the proposed coalition should work out a common minimum programme immediately on some basic needs that will essentially exclude divestment in profit-making PSUs. "We have to reverse the process of Arun Shouries. The divestment in Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd should be scrapped."

Emerging from the meeting, Bardhan said the Left parties were discussing all the modalities to cobble a coalition.

"We want to assess the reactions of other parties. We are trying to contact the Samajwadi party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and DMK chief M Karunanidhi," he said.

Asked what could be the reservations for joining the government, he said: "We will have to see what will be the policies of the new government. What will be the common minimum programme and what will be the economic policy."

He went on to add that he was not spelling out the issues like agriculture, labour and industrial policies as these would be part of the discussions.

"We are making efforts to unite all the supporting parties who have played a role in defeating the BJP," Surjeet said. Asked about a common minimum programme for governance, he said: "Everybody has to compromise."

Asked whether the Left parties would oppose the labour reforms of the NDA, particularly the Contract Act, Surjeet said: "There are many things that have to be corrected."

Bardhan said although his party had fundamental differences with Congress, it did not mean that all CPI policies should be implemented today itself.

"It (manifesto) will not be the policies of the Congress or ours. It has to be a common minimum programme and it has to be worked out," he said, adding all the parties which had worked for defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party should come together.

On the foreign origin issue, Bardhan said his party had never raked it up despite its differences with Congress. "Why should we discuss a person who as Congress president has defeated the BJP."

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the law enacted by the Parliament to restrict the number of ministries at the Centre will help to scrap the divestment ministry as it is a totally unnecessary ministry.

"There is no need to divest profit-making PSUs identified as Navratnas. The other profit-making PSUs need to be strengthened and made more efficient," he said.

About the loss-making PSUs, he said the government should try to make them more viable by bringing in more private investment through joint venture and if every effort fails then a decision to dispose off such PSUs could be taken in consultation with the management and workers.

Left parties had the satisfaction of achieving all its three objectives -- defeating communal forces, establishing alternate secular government and increasing the strength of Left parties -- in the Lok Sabha polls, he said.

India Votes 2004

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