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Play active role to defuse situation in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh: CPI (M)

G. M. Rao, Chairman, DIAL (left), presents a memento to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the stone laying ceremony of the New Integrated Terminal and Runway at the IGI Airport on Saturday. Looking on is Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel (right).   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: V.V. KRISHNAN

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau on Saturday said the Government should play an active role in defusing the situation in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as developments in these two countries could have repercussions in India.

While welcoming recent foreign policy initiatives taken by the Government, the CPI (M) expressed concern over the prevailing situation in these two neighbouring countries.

Among the initiatives welcomed by the Polit Bureau on the foreign policy front are External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Iran, talks on the Iran-India gas pipeline and the recent meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India, China and Russia in the capital.

Briefing newspersons after the first session, Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said the spurt of communal activities in different parts of the country particularly eastern Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka also came up for discussion. "What initially appeared to be simmering communal discontent is now resulting in sharp polarisation. There appears to be a determined bid by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the communal combine to regain their space by sharpening their communalism which is not good for the secular fabric of the country."

The Government came in for some sharp criticism for the spiralling prices of essentials as the Polit Bureau members held the current dispensation at the Centre squarely responsible for the galloping inflation. Terming the Government's argument that the high inflation was the result of overheating of the economy flawed reading of the situation, Mr. Yechury said it was instead a direct result of the decision to allow futures and forward trading in essential commodities.

Also, the Polit Bureau took note of the fact that the Government had belatedly rolled back the price of petroleum products to pre-July 2006 levels.

"This has been our demand for several months and had the Government paid heed to it, the inflation could have been contained," Mr. Yechury said.

As for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) an issue over which the party's Government in West Bengal has faced considerable criticism Mr. Yechury said the discussion on industrialisation and land acquisition was slated for Sunday. However, he did point out that the party and the Left Front had made its policy in this regard amply clear in the manifesto for last year's Assembly elections in West Bengal.

Particularly on land acquisition, he said ideally no agricultural land should be converted for industrial use. But, in States like West Bengal, where non-agricultural land is scarce to come by, rain-fed one-crop areas should be given out for industrialisation first; that, too, after adequate compensation to not just the land owners but to all those who lived off that stretch of land.