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Mid-term elections a possibility: CPI

October 20, 2006 17:24 IST

Criticising the Centre's policies, senior Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta Friday said the gap between the Left and United progressive Alliance was widening and there was a possibility of mid-term elections.

Dasgupta, who is All-India Trade Union Congress general secretary, termed the UPA a "temporary arrangement" and said the Left was trying to get more concessions from it. He announced that AITUC activists would picket Parliament House on November 23 and hold a nationwide strike on December 14 to protest setting up of Special Economic Zones and policies on labour and petro price hikes among other issues.

On the relations between the Congress and Left, which extends outside support to the UPA, he claimed "it is not we (Left parties) but they (Congress) who are losing face" and accused the UPA of one-sided policy decisions.

Dasgupta said the Left parties would not allow passage of a single "anti-people" bill and at least seven bills including financial sector reforms, banks merger, pension and Trade Union Act, were pending for want of clearance from the Left.

He also lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, which he called "a sinking boat" and said the Left considered it a "severe threat" to the country. "The BJP plays politics of religion. For them temple is a priority and they want to divide the country on communal lines," he said.

Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's economic policies, Dasgupta said "he does not speak about labour at all. The prime minister is trying to invite foreign capital at any cost even by surrendering sovereignty of the country".

However, the Left did not want "a change of person, we want change of policies adopted by him", he said.

He accused the government of hiking petroleum prices in a "clandestine manner" to increase its revenue and reiterated the Left's demand for corporate tax to be raised from the present 30 to 35 per cent.

"There is still the scope to broaden the tax base," Dasgupta said and added that there should be a cap on the profit of corporate houses. He said the prime minister's recent proposal for FDI in retail trade was opposed by the Left as it would lead to unequal competition, increase unemployment and hit consumers. He denounced the SEZ Act as being passed hurriedly and said the Left would introduce a special resolution in Parliament to bring amendments to the act.

He said the SEZ policy would encourage "small republics run by corporates" and intensify social tensions with "islands of prosperity in the ocean of poverty". The trade union leader also criticised the violation of trade union laws in terms of implementation of minimum wage, provident fund, factory and industry acts.

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