‘We are not averse to fielding a separate candidate if Congress' choice is unacceptable'

The Communist Party of India has demanded that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance make public its choice of candidate for the President.

Several names, including that of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, were in circulation for the post and the Congress should take the initiative to field a person with proven track record, secular credentials and acceptability.

CPI general secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy faulted the Congress for seeking the Left support for the presidential election without making a formal announcement of its choice for the post.

“How can the Left announce its support when the name of the candidate is not finalised,” Mr. Reddy asked, asserting that it was not easy to see the candidate through even if the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party joined hands.

Mr. Reddy, who inaugurated the party's State Committee meeting here on Tuesday, demanded that the Congress announce its candidate for the post. The Left parties would hold consultations on whether or not to support the choice of the ruling combine. The parties could support other candidates in fray based on their credentials and they were not averse to fielding a candidate on their own if the Congress' choice was not acceptable.

The CPI leader expressed concern over the likely rise in prices of gas and petroleum products. He said it was sure to have a cascading effect on the prices of essentials. The Left parties were gearing up to launch a nationwide agitation against the government's “anti-people policies” that would culminate in “chaloParliament” during the monsoon session.

Mr. Reddy faulted the recent statement by the Finance Minister on the slowing down of economic reforms, claiming that the government was preparing the ground for implementing another round of neo-liberal policies. The development came close on the heels of global rating agency Standards & Poor ranking the country in the negative.

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