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Can BJP-Left combination floor UPA?

By Saubhadro Chatterji
September 17, 2009 03:46 IST
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After voting with sworn political enemy Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against its one-time ally — the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) — last year, the Left is again considering floor co-ordination with the BJP in Parliament.

This time, it is the country's original communist party — the CPI — that has extended its hands to tackle an "aggressive" UPA government and "protect the rights of the Opposition as well as Parliament".

The CPI(M), the big brother of Indian Communists today, however may decide to play safe and not join this 'rainbow coalition'. If the CPI(M) doesn't agree to be a part of this political bandwagon for floor co-ordination, the idea of an Opposition grand alliance is likely to fall flat.

CPI leader in the Lok Sabha, Gurudas Dasgupta, met Sushma Swaraj, the deputy leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, in the last session of Parliament to explore the possibility of this informal but tacit understanding.

According to top BJP sources, Dasgupta sought an appointment with Swaraj and asked if there could be some understanding to ensure a concerted attack on the government on the floor of the House. He also said that his party (with 4 MPs in the Lok Sabha) wanted to raise important issues related to the problems of the aam aadmi but a fractured Opposition made this ineffective.

Dasgupta said that he saw no harm is coordinating with the BJP on the floor of the House. "The UPA government tends to act in an aggressive manner frequently. The right of the Opposition as well as the right of Parliament is being infringed upon by the government. We need to protect our right. All parties on the Opposition bench must come together against this attitude of the government. We must speak to each other to coordinate," Dasgupta said.

His counterpart in the CPI(M), Basudeb Acharia, is totally opposed to this idea: "There is no question of any understanding with the BJP. We will oppose the government's policies in our own way," Acharia said.

Swaraj, according to sources, didn't reject Dasgupta's proposal but asked him first to talk to the CPI(M) and bring the bigger communist force on board as well. Swaraj clearly told Dasgupta that without the CPI(M), which has 16 Lok Sabha MPs, an understanding would not be meaningful.During the last Parliament session, a discussion related to price rise mooted by the Left parties had to be postponed at least twice after the BJP and Samajwadi Party interrupted the House with their own issues, leading to adjournments.

The government paid no attention to the Left's demand and passed the General and the Railway Budget, bypassing its customary referral to the standing committees.

As the Left strength dwindled from 61 MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha to just 34 in the present House, the CPI(M) has already formed a 'Left Bloc' in Parliament and decided to sit along with other Left parties to act as a force multiplier.

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Saubhadro Chatterji in New Delhi
Source: source
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