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HVK Archives: Left gives Gowda six more months in Delhi

Left gives Gowda six more months in Delhi - The Asian Age

Seema Mustafa ()
17 December 1996

Title : Left gives Gowda six more months in Delhi
Author : Seema Mustafa
Publication : The Asian Age
Date : December 17, 1996

Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, after leading his government through a
"dismal" performance in Parliament, is being accused by his own Cabinet
colleagues and allies of "just marking time" until the government falls. The
Left party leaders are now giving this government less than six months to
survive.

The lack of political will to set a new path in this session of Parliament
was very evident. Sources said that on every crucial issue the government
backed out, unable to withstand even minimal political pressure. A senior
CPI(M) leader said, "Every single day of Parliament was a complete waste of
time as the government was unable to take a position on any issue."

Two major bills that were scheduled to be passed in this session have fallen
by the wayside. The women's bill granting one third reservation to women in
the legislatures has been introduced after considerable lobbying, but the
Prime Minister has succumbed to pressure from a section of the Janata Dal
which has opposed the bill.

Sources said the BJP and the Congress would have supported the bill in the
final analysis, but the real objection came from the Janata Dal and Mr Gowda
was unable to go against his own party. He has made it clear that the bill
will not be passed in this session.

Another important legislation for agricultural labour has not even been
introduced. The Prime Minister has spoken of "legal and constitutional
problems" because of which this important bill, which forms part of the
United Front Common Minimum Programme, has been shelved. Or as one senior
leader said "probably dropped."

The Lokpal Bill has been framed in a manner that it cannot allow any party to
support its introduction. It has been referred to the home affairs standing
committee as the present document, to quote a CPI(M) leader, "is loaded in
favour of the corrupt." The government has gone back on its commitment to
update the Prasar Bharati Bill granting autonomy to Doordarshan.

In fact the only step taken by the United Front in this session of Parliament
is to get President's rule in Uttar Pradesh ratified. The one major agreement
that was signed outside Parliament, namely the sharing of the Ganga waters
with Bangladesh, was at the initiative of West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti
Basu. The CPI(M) decided that it was imperative to strengthen "secular
forces" in the neighbouring country and worked on the agreement to ensure
this. The CPI(M), which is a constituent of the United Front is giving no
credit to Mr Gowda and his government for the successful conclusion of this
agreement.

Mr Gowda's passivity during this session of Parliament has become cause of
comment among his colleagues. At the onset it was expected that the
government would use this session to send out strong political signals that
would offset the threat posed by the Congress. The fact that the Prime
Minister chose to adopt the line of least confrontation has given rise to
serious speculation about his own ambitions, and the subsequent impact on the
coalition government.



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