New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or the CPM, a key architect of the so-called third political front, is likely to recommend bailouts to only those companies that guarantee no lay-offs.
The party’s election manifesto, to be released on 16 March and finalized in its two-day central committee meeting on 7 and 8 March, would also reiterate its opposition to the Congress party as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“The manifesto would talk about increased expenditure in public sector, greater emphasis on agriculture and employment generation and making the bailout packages conditional to ensure that those beneficiaries do not retrench jobs,” said a member of the party’s central committee, who declined being named. “On the political front, the motto would be to fight against both the Congress and the BJP and work for a third alternative.”
The party manifesto for the 2004 general election had called for “the rejection of BJP and its allies and for the formation of a secular government at (the) centre”. However, the Left parties fell out with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in July last year over the India-US nuclear deal. Since then, the Left parties, led by the CPM, have been working towards forming a third front along with other non-Congress, non-BJP parties, such as Janata Dal (Secular), Telugu Desam Party and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam.
The movement has gained momentum after Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party also assured the Left of its support, though it is reluctant to enter into a pre-poll arrangement. More recently, the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa parted ways with its long-term ally, the BJP, and has indicated it may join the third front. Being at the centre of such hectic and crucial political activity, the CPM’s manifesto assumes special significance, since it may influence the agenda if the third front succeeds in forming the next government.
“Our manifesto will be something that looks beyond elections,” said another central committee member who also spoke on condition of anonymity. “We will seek a ban on participatory notes and will enforce long-term capital gains tax and securities transactions tax. The manifesto will also talk about withdrawing tax concessions given to corporates. as well as having a higher rate of tax for affluent sections. We are also against financial de-regulation. Politically, our manifesto would talk about strengthening centre-state relations.” Participatory notes are instruments used by unregistered foreign entities to invest in Indian stock markets,
The CPM manifesto for the 2004 elections had laid emphasis on strengthening federalism, including replacing Article 356 with suitable provisions and amending the constitution to devolve more powers. Article 356 of the constitution gives the Union government the authority to dismiss any state government and impose president’s rule.
Consistent with its promise of a “non-aligned foreign policy” made in the 2004 manifesto, this latest manifesto would also talk about an independent foreign policy.
The Communist Party of India, or CPI, which is expected to release its manifesto a week later, will include similar points. “We will talk about the need for a non-BJP, non-Congress alternative. We would also emphasize the role of the public sector,” said a senior CPI leader who didn’t want to be identified. “The manifesto will also stress on how bailouts are no solution to problems such as the economic recession and what we need is greater spending by the government in infrastructure, agriculture, etc. Employment generation is important.”
Meanwhile, industry associations are hoping to see a greater emphasis on implementation in party election manifestos. “Implementation of the stimulus packages by the current and the next government are of immediate concern. Each party in its manifesto should also talk about how it would stimulate the economy through government spending and RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and maintain the growth momentum,” said Amit Mitra, secretary general of industry lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “Further, they must lay down their plan for infrastructure construction, education sector as well as the health sector.”