Does the Left have no alternative but to continue supporting the Congress-led UPA government despite strong disagreements on various economic policy issues? Are the claims of the Left that it is capable of not just "barking" but "biting" as well a lot of bluff and bluster? Have the Indian Communists—today more powerful than ever before if one goes by the number of seats they won in the Lok Sabha—been left in the lurch? Are they faced with a Hobson’s choice, supporting a government that takes its support for granted and
cares two hoots about its concerns?
Let us consider three issues on which Left-Congress relations have been tense: oil prices, FDI and the interest rate on employees’ provident fund (EPF) deposits. The first is the least problematic. Finance minister P. Chidambaram has agreed to bring down taxes on several petro-products by reducing the effective rate of protection given to domestic refiners, so the Left’s grouse has by and large been addressed.
No sane person would blame the government for what has happened: global oil prices are ruling at...