Left rules out deal on BHEL

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Left parties on Saturday reasserted their opposition to the disinvestment of the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited ahead of their meeting with the United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Sunday.

"Our stand is known. It is what we said in the letter [to Sonia Gandhi] that the decision is a violation of the Common Minimum Programme, which does not authorise disinvestment in navaratna companies. Tomorrow we will meet the UPA chairperson and hear from her what she has to say. We will then decide," Communist Party of India general secretary A.B. Bardhan told reporters after a meeting of Left party leaders here.

The meeting was to deliberate on the decision of the four Left parties supporting the UPA Government to suspend participation in the UPA-Left coordination committee meetings in protest against the Government decision to offload 10 per cent equity in BHEL.

`In their court'

Mr. Bardhan said the Left parties were not bargaining and that it was for the UPA leadership to come forward with a response.

"We are not bargaining. The ball is in their court," Mr. Bardhan said in response to a question whether the Left parties would agree to any Government proposal to scale down the disinvestment level to five per cent.

The current stand-off between the Left parties and the UPA on the disinvestment of BHEL began on June 26 when the former announced their decision to suspend participation in the coordination committee meetings.

Subsequently, Ms. Gandhi met Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat and the CPI national secretary D. Raja to resolve the issue.

The Revolutionary Socialist Party said there was no need to dilute the Left's principled stand.

The All-India Forward Bloc, that was not present at the meeting here, sent a resolution on similar lines adopted at its ongoing central committee meeting at Kolkata.

The AIFB endorsed the Left parties' stand and said there was no need to go back on it "even if the Government decided to bring down the recent disinvestment from 10 per cent to five per cent. It is a policy matter; therefore the question does not arise for any sort of compromise or bargain," party general secretary Debabrata Biswas said in a press statement.

Besides Mr. Bardhan, CPI (M) leaders Karat, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Sitaram Yechury, D. Raja of CPI and Abani Roy and Manoj Bhattacharya of the RSP attended Saturday's meeting.

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