Having kept it alive for four years with outside support, the Left on Tuesday branded the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government as 'no different' from its predecessor National Democratic Alliance government, on the economic and foreign policy fronts.
Expressing unhappiness over the performance of the UPA government, Communist Party of India leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said that the UPA government had not brought about any changes in the direction of policies pursued by the previous NDA government.
"It just followed the NDA's policies in economic and foreign policy spheres," they alleged. On the India-United States nuclear agreement, which the Left has been opposing, Communist Party of India - Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia warned of 'political crisis' if the government went ahead with it.
The Marxist leader said Left parties, at their joint meeting in New Delhi on May 23, will further review the performance of the UPA government and take appropriate position.
The meeting, to be held a day after the completion of four years of the government, will also debate how effective the Left has been in playing the role of the Opposition by keeping the Bharatiya Janata Party away from occupying it as well as of keeping the government alive, even while keeping it on tight leash.
Evaluating its four years in office as 'indifferent and disastrous', Bardhan charged the UPA government with presiding over record inflation, agrarian crisis and mortaging the country's independent policy to the US strategic interests.
However, he said that Left parties will not allow communal forces to exploit people's discontent with the government to derive political benefits. Bardhan added that the UPA government has only one year left to deliver, to win back the confidence of the people by working for the poor, lower and middle classes, who had given it the mandate to govern for five years, he added.
The Left leaders said that the Congress-led coalition has failed in fulfilling promises and commitments made in the common minimum programme. Faizi, however, said some 'good work' done by the government has been overshadowed by rise in prices of essential commodities, farmers' suicides, slowdown in industrial production and food insecurity.
Faizi lauded the UPA government's initial thrust in undoing 'anti-secular' actions of the NDA government. He showered encomiums on the Human Resource Development Ministry for strengthening the secular fabric of education.
Similar steps were taken by the Culture Ministry to prevent penetration of communal agenda, he added. He also patted the UPA government for enacting various positive legislations, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Right to Information Act, law against domestic violence, tribal rights on forest land and granting inheritance rights to daughters in parental property.
The CPI leader said it was the Left pressure which restrained the government from going ahead with liberalising labour laws, foreign direct investment in insurance sector, handing over of private banks to foreign players and allowing private players to manage a part of provident fund for investment in stock market.
But unfortunately, the UPA government thereafter went ahead with pursuing the liberal economic agenda with the same vigour that was witnessed during the NDA regime, he said.
This is borne out by recent announcement by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, about divesting ten per cent equity in profit-making public sector enterprises, he said, adding that ten per cent of small saving fund of people were also on block for investment in stock market.
"Overall, the UPA government is like a Nelson's apple, which is good in parts, but most of it is rotten," Faizi said.
Bardhan said that the government's liberal economic agenda has created an island of affluence amid all-round poverty in the country, where 77.4 per cent people live on less than Rs 20 a day.
"The government has failed miserably to contain inflation ....farmers' suicides are continuing due to agrarian crisis, industrial production has come down to a low of 3 per cent," Bardhan said, alleging, "This is the direct fallout of government ignoring the Left suggestions."
Charging the Manmohan Singh government with having not only diluted the country's independent foreign policy by deviating from the path of non-alignment, the veteran Communist leader alleged it rather chose to toe the US' imperialist designs.
Asked how long the government will last, the CPI leader quipped," We are already in the election year. It matters little whether the polls are held in April-May or a few months earlier."
Calling the Left role as that of 'check-and-balance' on the government, Forward Bloc general secretary Debvrat Biswas said it was their pressure that forced the government to seek 'sense of the House' on the India-US nuclear agreement, though it is not mandatory for a government to seek Parliament approval of international treaties.
However, he expressed the hope that this government will run its full term but wanted it to implement the CMP.