D Raja of the CPI analyses the workings of UPA-I and UPA-II
“The biggest weakness of the present coalition, according to him, is the lack of a co-ordination committee and a Common Minimum Programme (CMP). Nobody knows how and why allies joined hands with Congress to form the government without either of these.
UPA I had both. The Left parties decided to support it on the basis of the CMP, which led to formation of a co-ordination committee.
Then, policy matters used to be sorted out within the parameters of CMP. The Left criticised the government when it deviated from the CMP, as in the case of its decision to disinvest from BHEL. We stayed away from meetings. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi finally took up the hive-off issue and it was put in abeyance. Again, when the government took up other issues such as FDI in retail, opening up of insurance, banking sectors etc, we opposed. But then all these were first discussed at the meeting of co-ordination committee. Importantly, we opposed them because they were not part of CMP.
Many good things too happened. Many progressive legislation such as rural job scheme, Forest Rights Act, Prevention of domestic violence bill were framed during UPA I. Even the Women's reservation bill was passed in one House of Parliament.
We quit UPA when the government took up the nuclear deal with US. Still we discussed, there were several meetings. Finally, there was no meeting ground and we decided to move out.
The committee used to hold dignified , serious discussions. We never indulged in one-upmanship. Thats why ÚPA-I was stable. It could enact positive legislation.
As for today’s major scams dating back to UPA-I, I would like to say we did not interfere in the day to day work of the government. We discussed only policy matters. We were not part of the government. Towards the end, Congress wanted to have its own agenda. There were signs of drift from CMP. Scams started during this period. We became critical of the drift of UPA. When the committee fell, the government fell morally too.
What I remember is the Left being blamed for bunging a spanner in the works of 'reforms' constantly during UPA-I. Authority without responsibility. Also, the glee when the Left was routed in the 2009 elections. Hurray for 'reforms'! No more millstone around the UPA's neck!
But that didn't quite work out for our pro-reform chattering classes and business houses, did it?