Govt need US help to pacify allies?, asks CPI(M)
New Delhi: With US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the CPI(M) on Tuesday said "nothing can be a more sorry situation" if the government required American help to pacify its allies.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury was replying to a question about Banerjee's opposition to allowing FDI in retail, an issue raised in India by the visiting US Secretary of State.
"If such a situation arises that the government requires US help to pacify its allies or sort out problems within the ruling alliance, nothing can be a more sorry situation for the country. It shows the level of our dependence on the US," Yechury said.
Noting that the normal protocol for a high-level foreign visit was to begin with meetings at the Centre and then in the states, the CPI(M) leader pointed out that Clinton's visit started from Bengal but added it was the central government's prerogative to finalise the schedule of such a visit.
"This visit (of Clinton to Bengal) is more like an official recognition of the fact that the Left was defeated there," he said.
Attacking the UPA government for taking positions "at the behest of the US and in keeping with their interests," Yechury said there has been a significant decline in India buying oil from Iran in the past three months.
"Under US pressure, India has also virtually abandoned the Indo-Iran gas pipeline which could have given us cheaper crude. This is not acceptable as it goes against Indian interests," he said.
Referring to the US Kolkata Consulate's statement that the FDI issue was discussed between Clinton and Banerjee and the subsequent denial by the state government, Yechury said these were "dangerous signs. We can't have the US to say we have discussed such issues which are internal matters or bilateral matters between India and Bangladesh (Teesta water sharing)".
"This gross interference in India's affairs cannot be permitted. We demand that the government make an explanation in Parliament," he said.
To questions on Trinamool Congress voting against the government's Medical Council Bill in the Lok Sabha, Yechury and his colleague Basudeb Acharia said the party's chief has stated they would vote in favour in the Rajya Sabha, terming it "strange and unprecedentedly abnormal".
Acharia said the party also took one stand on the Lokpal Bill in the Lok Sabha and another in the Rajya Sabha, with Yechury quipping "at least they are respecting the independence of both Houses of Parliament".
On the Finance Bill, Yechury said the government was "succumbing to pressures from international capital" by withholding the tax announced in the budget on capital gains.
It has also slashed the capital gains tax on private equity and withdrawn taxation on property transaction "coming under pressure from the builders' lobby," he said.
"When we talk of Food Security Act, the government says there is no money. But it withdraws all these taxes. This is actually giving subsidies to the rich and depriving the poor," the CPI(M) leader alleged, adding these measures would be opposed in the House by the Left parties.