Left-UPA flashpoints since May 2004


New Delhi : The often uneasy relationship between the Left parties and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government ended Tuesday after four years, over the India-US civil nuclear deal. But there were other differences too between the two sides that came together in 2004 on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme.

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Here are some of the major issues over which the Left clashed with the Congress since the Manmohan Singh government took power in May 2004:

·The Left opposed the UPA government’s proposal to hike the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in telecommunication from 49 percent to 74 percent. After a year of bitter wrangling, the UPA government went ahead and implemented the proposal even in the teeth of opposition from its allies.

·In insurance and civil aviation, the Left prevented the government from raising the FDI cap.

·The Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority bill, seeking to put the pension fund in charge of private companies and invest the pension money in stocks, languished because of the Left’s refusal to back it in parliament.

·The UPA government’s proposal to sell off shares from Indian banks and allow more foreign banks to operate from here ran aground as the Left refused to back the government’s banking reforms.

·The Left demanded a review of the 2003 Electricity Act brought by the then BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government even as the UPA government was pushing for its implementation.

·The Left wanted the employees’ Provident Fund interest rate to be fixed at 9.5 percent. The government decided to keep it at 8.5 percent.

·The government was forced to shelved its decision to disinvest 10 percent share in Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL).

.The Left resisted the government’s proposal to bring FDI in the retail sector.

.There was protracted tussle between the government and the Left over allowing private agencies to modernise airports.

·But it was in foreign policy that the Left clashed most vehemently with the government. It wanted the UPA government not to enter into any strategic alliance with the US administration.

.Finally, it was the Manmohan Singh government’s resolve to go ahead with the India-US nuclear deal that forced the Left to withdraw support to the government.