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Left leaders meet Sonia on BHEL; hopeful of ending deadlock soon

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Mr Prakash Karat, CPI(M) General Secretary, flanked by Mr Abani Roy (left) of RSP and Mr D. Raja of CPI, at a news conference after meeting the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, in the Capital on Sunday. Ramesh Sharma
Mr Prakash Karat, CPI(M) General Secretary, flanked by Mr Abani Roy (left) of RSP and Mr D. Raja of CPI, at a news conference after meeting the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, in the Capital on Sunday. Ramesh Sharma

Our Bureau

New Delhi, July 10

A POSSIBLE way out seems to be emerging to end the deadlock between the Left parties and the Government on the contentious issue of BHEL disinvestment.

The Left party leaders on Sunday met the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, seeking her intervention on the issue and later said they were "hopeful" that the matter would be amicably resolved.

"The Left party members today met Ms Gandhi. We have requested her to intervene as Chairperson of the UPA to see that Government adheres to the provisions of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) regarding the Navratna companies. After the discussion with her, the Left parties are hopeful that the issue will be amicably resolved," the CPI (M) General Secretary, Mr Prakash Karat, told reporters after an hour-long meeting here.

Pointing out that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had returned from his visit to Scotland, Mr Karat said, "Ms Gandhi has told us that she will discuss (the matter) with the PM and get back to us...We had met her earlier also on July 1 and today's discussion gives us the hope that the matter will be amicably resolved."

However, sources told Business Line that the Government decision to disinvest in BHEL was a violation of the CMP, but if the board of BHEL decides on the issue as has happened in the case of NTPC and provided it has enough justification, the move may be acceptable to the Left parties.

Asked if there was a timeframe for resolving the deadlock, CPI leader, Mr D. Raja, said, "We think the issue can be resolved as early as possible. We have reiterated the stand taken by the Left parties and requested Ms Gandhi to intervene and see that Government adheres to CMP as far as Navratnas are concerned. The talks took place in a positive atmosphere. We have pointed out that there is a clear violation of the CMP."

On whether the Left parties would continue to abstain from the UPA-Left coordination committee meetings, Mr Raja said, "Let us see once the issue is resolved... both sides are keen to resolve it."

Forward Bloc leader, Mr Debabrata Biswas, and RSP leader, Mr Abani Roy, insisted that the only way to settle the issue was by the Government withdrawing the BHEL decision. "There is no other option for the Government," they added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 11, 2005)
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