NATIONAL

CPI for poll ties with RJD and LJP

Special Correspondent

Differences apart, we can work together, says Bardhan

NEW DELHI: Slipping into preparatory mode for the Bihar Assembly elections later this year, the Communist Party of India on Monday said it will seek to enter into an electoral understanding with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP).

“We will attempt to have an electoral understanding or adjustment with the RJD and the LJP, who are taking up people's issues. We know the parties' stand on the Women's Reservation Bill. These differences apart, we can work together,” CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said at a press conference at the conclusion of a two-day National Executive of his party here.

Mr. Bardhan said while the CPI was with the CPI (M), it was hoped that both parties could work it out to defeat the ruling Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, and prevent the Congress from coming to power.

With the four Left parties having decided to hold a mass agitation programme against price rise on April 8, Mr. Bardhan said some 20 to 25 lakh people would offer themselves for arrest.

“The March 12 march to Parliament was just a warning and April 8 is the action… for we feel that instead of working to reduce prices, the government is taking steps that are leading to escalation.”

The CPI leader said that five days ago the government increased the issue price for rice and wheat for the above-poverty-line cardholders under the public distribution system. This would severely hurt States like Kerala that have a good public distribution system.

On reports of a marginal slide in food inflation, he said the government was mocking at the misery of people.

Asked about reports of the government planning to restore normality by easing the austerity drive at a time when inflation was high, Mr. Bardhan criticised the move. He said the government should say how much money it saved on account of the “so-called austerity drive.”

Mr. Bardhan expressed concern over the increasing trend in the Manmohan Singh government of growing “more and more authoritarian and its contempt for the Opposition.” He said such an approach spelt danger for the future of democracy and that it was time for all right thinking forces to fight this tendency.