The often uneasy relationship between the Left parties and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has come to an end after four years, over the controversial India-US civil nuclear deal. The withdrawal of support marks the end of a rare era during which the Left parties exercised great influence over national policy; but not always to the satisfaction of the corporate sector.
A landmark civil nuclear deal between the US and India marked the end of the Left's support of the UPA government
In the end, the withdrawal of support by the Left parties that finally put to an end months of wrangling and bickering over the contentious India-US nuclear deal came as surprise to no-one.
Ever since the United Progressive Alliance coalition assumed office, economic reforms and progressive policies had been obstructed by the Left parties.
Whenever it wanted to make key decisions ranging from the financial sector to the further opening up of the Indian economy to foreign investors, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government had its hands tied by the Left parties.
Relief from corporate sector
The corporate sector is largely relieved by their withdrawal from the coalition government.
“I think it is the best thing that could have happened to India, said Anil Malhotra, a corporate consultant. “Surprise or not, all that these guys provided was nuisance value. For them, they believed what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. What they were doing in West Bengal was complete privatization and capitalism at its best. But the same thing did not apply to the country. They would just drive a spoke in every wheel, every sector.”
India’s Left parties were given an opportunity to emerge as a renewed force in national politics during the 2004 elections. To begin with, they developed a Common Minimum Programme in order to work alongside the ruling Congress party. But subsequent policies pursued by the Left demonstrated that communist ideology rather than national interest continues to dictate its decisions.
Left is now isolated
Political editor Monobina Gupta who has chronicled the communists for over a decade says it will take a lot for them to build up support once again:
“At present immediately after withdrawal of support the Left parties stand isolated. The only way they can stage a comeback and return to the electoral field is if they are able to pitch their campaign against price rise really high. And they also have to reach out to the people and explain why they were forced to withdraw support to the UPA government”
The four-year association between Congress and the Left was never a smooth ride. The Left parties demanded the end of the divestment of loss-making public sector units and opposed foreign direct investment in the retail sector as well as the recent hike in fuel prices despite the rise in global prices -- observers think the Left parties threatened the stability of the UPA Government too often.
“By and large people are happy because the Left was perceived as a force, which was anti-reform,” explained Gupta. “There is a lot of support among the middle-classes for reform. Their exit from the close circles of government will definitely be happy news for some of the policy makers who wanted the reforms to carry on at a much, much faster speed.”
The full implications of the Left’s decision to pull out from the coalition will not come to light immediately -- perhaps only the results of the next general elections will tell, whenever they take place.