New Delhi: India’s most influential hard-left party called on Monday ahead of a general election for state control of the financial sector and restrictions on foreign investment to overcome an economic slowdown.
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In its manifesto for the April-May general election, released on Monday, the CPI (M) also proposed a complete halt to privatisation of profitable state firms, a ban on foreign investment in the retail sector, and guidelines to prevent entry of foreign firms into some of India’s domestic markets.
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The main battle in the 16 April -13 May election will be between a coalition led by the left-of-centre Congress Party and an alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, traditionally more pro-business.
“The CPI(M) will work for the creating of a non-Congress, non-BJP government, which will strengthen democracy, ensure equitable economic development and social justice,” the party said in the document.
After years of blocking economic reforms, the CPI(M) and smaller leftist parties withdrew their support for the government to protest against a civilian nuclear deal with the United States. The deal gives India access to nuclear fuel and technology on international markets.
The party has since said it wants to be part of a “Third Front” alternative of smaller parties to the main national alliances.
The CPI(M) said it wanted to review the nuclear deal with the United States to remove “harmful” clauses. It says the accord damages India’s ability to have independent security, making the country reliant on Washington.
The communists may struggle to retain the same number of seats in this election amid problems in some of its heartlands, such as West Bengal.
But it could still muster enough seats to hold the balance of power, political analysts say.
The manifesto had little impact on Indian markets, with traders saying that the CPI(M) does not have the same clout as in previous years. Indian 30-share BSE stock index was up 1.7% in late afternoon trade.
Its leaders believe an economic slowdown in India sparked by the global financial crisis could see a backlash against foreign firms and lead voters to support more regulation of the financial sector.
In the manifesto, the CPI(M) said it would also stop joint military exercises with the United States, a country of that it has traditionally been suspicious.
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint