(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 13 , 2008
“PM MUST GET CONFIDENCE VOTE SOON”
Left Withdraws Support From Manmohan Singh Govt
THE Left parties --- the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc --- have withdrawn support from the Manmohan Singh government. At 12 o’clock on Wednesday, July 9, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI general secretary A B Bardhan, Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas and RSP general secretary T J Chandrachoodan met the president of India, Mrs Pratibha Patil, and handed her over separate letters intimating withdrawal of their respective parties’ support from the government. Next, they also handed her over a joint letter, urging her that, in view of the withdrawal of support by the Left, she must ask the Manmohan Singh government to get a confidence vote in Lok Sabha soon.
The Left parties had already announced the support withdrawal a day before, on July 8. In a press conference aboard his plane on his way to the G-8 summit in Japan, the prime minister had announced that his government would “soon” go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board for an endorsement of the safeguards agreement prepared by the IAEA Secretariat. The Left took this announcement as an expression of the government’s readiness to go ahead for operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, without caring for the UPA-Left coordination committee to reach a conclusion.
Through a joint letter, the Left parties had already intimated the coordination committee’s convenor, Pranab Mukherjee, about their decision. The Left had reminded him of their resolve that they would withdraw their support if the government goes to the IAEA Board of Governors, and clearly told him that the time for it had come in view of the prime minister’s announcement. It was immediately after it that the Left parties had announced their decision while addressing a press conference on July 8, adding that they had asked for an appointment with the president the next day.
It will be recalled that the UPA-Left coordination committee had reached a written understanding, in its sixth meeting on November 16, 2007, that the government could hold talks with the IAEA Secretariat on the draft of the safeguards agreement, but that its conclusions would be placed before the UPA-Left coordination committee and the government’s next step in regard to the nuclear deal would be in accordance with the agreement reached by the UPA-Left coordination committee on the basis of those conclusions. The Left parties had already warned the Manmohan Singh government that they would be compelled to withdraw support in case the prime minister took any step for operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, in violation of the assurances given by the government.
In their meeting on July 4, the Left parties had also decided to launch a countrywide campaign from July 14, in order to take to the people their stand on the Indo-US nuclear deal. At the same time, they had written a letter to Pranab Mulherjee to clarify whether the government intended to go to the IAEA Board of Governors while ignoring the UPA-Left coordination committee. The letter had asked the convenor to clarify the position by July 7. (See full text of the Left parties’ July 4 letter to Pranab Mukherjee inside.)
In reply, Pranab Mukherjee proposed to hold another meeting of the UPA-Left coordination committee on July 10. But the prime minister’s unilateral announcement about going to the IAEA Board of Governors rendered the whole coordination committee process meaningless. This was what precipitated the withdrawal of support by the Left.
After giving their letter of support withdrawal to the president, leaders of the four Left parties addressed a crowded press conference at AKG Bhawan, the CPI(M) headquarters, where they expressed resolve to oppose the Indo-US nuclear deal at every level and to mobilise the people of the country as well as the like-minded parties against this deal. Addressing the media on the occasion, the CPI(M) general secretary lambasted the government’s claim that the proposed agreement with the IAEA was confidential and hence could not be tabled in the UPA-Left coordination committee. He asked: Who had after all decided that this draft was confidential?
Karat reminded that the USA itself was negotiating with the IAEA a special protocol whose draft was not only made available to the US congress but was also freely accessible on the internet. His question was: Is the IAEA adopting different standards for India and the USA or has the UPA government itself decided to keep it confidential in order to avoid any scrutiny? His point was: How could the Left parties endorse a document without having seen its contents?
Prakash Karat severely criticised the Manmohan Singh government that it had pushed the country into a political crisis just to fulfil the prime minister’s commitment to George Bush, and was callous towards fulfilling its commitment to the people of India, made in its Common Minimum Programme. It was extremely insensitive to the plight of the common people who were reeling under the burden of unbearable price and galloping inflation, which should have been its first priority. Lambasting this callousness on part of the government, Karat reminded that, out of its blind faithfulness to the neo-liberal policies, the government had rejected all the five crucial suggestions given by the Left for putting a halt to the price rise.
Karat was categorical on the issue:
The Left parties cannot be party to a government which is displaying such blatant callousness to the problems facing the common people of this country; these parties cannot support a course that is harmful for the country’s sovereignty.
(See elsewhere the text of the press communiqué released by the Left parties on the occasion.)