The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has rejected the criticism that the nationwide bandh on July 5 caused the country a huge economic loss, and the protest saw the coming together of the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party. It said these were being raised to divert attention from the main issue.

“The success of the hartal has led to the usual criticism — the economy has lost thousands of crores of rupees. This cry is being raised by the very quarters that received tax concessions worth thousands of crores in the last budget and which are being promised more in the Direct Taxes Code to be promulgated shortly,” party general secretary Prakash Karat said.

Writing in the latest edition of the party organ, People's Democracy, Mr. Karat said the Congress accused the Left of joining hands with the BJP. “The corporate media is amusingly concerned about the ideological purity of the CPI (M).”

The politics of the CPI(M), and its stand against communalism, was well-known, he said, underscoring the consistent role his party and other Left parties played in countering communal politics represented by the BJP and defending secularism. The CPI (M) and other Left parties did not suffer from vacillations and compromises to which the Congress was prone.

Mr. Karat said the bogey of the Left joining hands with the communal forces was being raised to divert attention from the main issue. The CPI(M) had opposed the petroleum pricing policies of the successive governments. It opposed the policy announcement made by the United Front government on deregulation and suggested steps that should be taken to reduce the oil pool deficit, but the government did not last to implement the notification.

In 2002, when the NDA government implemented deregulation by dismantling the Administered Price Mechanism, the CPI(M) conducted agitations. The policy was discontinued in 2004.

The July 5 strike was called by the Left and seven other parties; with such a big attack launched on the people's livelihood, no Opposition party could keep away from a nationwide protest, and other parties, mainly the NDA, also gave a call for a bandh, Mr. Karat said.