New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) The Left Front appears to be divided over the creation of special economic zones (SEZs) as the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) favours it with riders but allies oppose these in toto.
While the CPI-M wants the central government to follow the West Bengal model in allotting land for SEZs, its allies - the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Forward Bloc - say no to the very concept of SEZs.
Leaders of the Left allies claim that the CPI-M, which has 43 members out of the 62 Left MPs, was trying to 'impose' its decision on them.
'As a trade unionist party, we are opposed to the concept of SEZ itself. There is no right for the labourers in SEZs,' RSP MP Abani Roy told IANS.
'The industrialists who take up business in SEZ do not care for the workers. They have no binding on the law of the land,' he added.
The CPI-M, on the other hand, does not have any ideological opposition to the SEZs.
'We want the government to follow the West Bengal model in allotting land and regulating it,' said CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat.
Karat said his party wants the central government to put a cap on the amount of land to be allotted and regulations on its usage besides reviewing the tax exemption given to the industries in the SEZs.
He said the stipulation of land to be used in an SEZ for industry purposes should be increased to at least 50 percent and 25 percent for related infrastructure.
While the CPI-M seeks compensation for farmers and agricultural workers, its allies do not want any agricultural land to be given away.
'We do not want any agricultural land to be allotted for industrial purposes or the SEZs. Why should any fertile land be used for industrial purposes?' asked CPI leader D. Raja.
The CPI had publicly opposed allotment of agricultural land for the SEZ in West Bengal, too.
Roy argued that the compensation for the agriculture land would not provide livelihood to farmers. 'A majority of them are small farmers. Even if they are given the market rate for their land, it would be of no use to them.'
'Taking away the agriculture land for industrial purpose will lead to acute food shortage,' he warned.
The allies complain that the CPI-M had not discussed the issue with them before making its stance public.
'Neither did they (CPI-M) discuss it with us nor did they seek our stand on the issue. They are trying to impose their stance on us,' said an ally leader, who did not wish to be named.
According to him, the CPI-M, which leads the Left Front government in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, has 'diluted its opposition to the concept of SEZ'.
However, the CPI-M leaders are happy that their demand for reviewing the rules for SEZ received support from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson.
At the Congress chief ministers' conclave in Nainital last week, party chief Sonia Gandhi had expressed her concern over acquisition of prime agricultural land to set up SEZs.
'We are happy that Gandhi also expressed her concerns. We want the government t