Ahamed not to quit, IUML to support UPA

July 12th, 2008 - 6:42 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) that is part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has decided to back Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government in its hour of crisis but may change its stance once the contentious India-US nuclear deal is operationalised. “The IUML will support the government in the trust vote,” IUML leader and Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed told IANS in an interview here Saturday.

He, however, added: “We have certain concerns over the nuclear deal and we have conveyed them to both the prime minister and (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi. We have begun discussing them and talks are on over them.

“We had reservations over American policies with regard to Iraq, Palestine and Iran. The party has expressed its reservations and concern with regards to the nuclear deal - such as whether it will affect our independent foreign policy,” the minister said.

Ahamed said the Congress leadership had agreed to discuss and clear their apprehensions satisfactorily. “They further assured that India’s foreign policy will not be compromised.”

The government’s decision to go ahead with the nuclear deal has led to the Left parties withdrawing their support.

The Congress-led UPA government is now preparing to face parliament during a special session July 21-22 to prove its majority.

Denying rumours that he might have to quit the government, Ahamed said: “I am a minister in the UPA government and I will continue to be a minister till my party takes another stand.”

Party sources in Kerala said the IUML, a crucial ally of the Congress in the state, may consider withdrawing the minister from the central government after “gauging the Muslim sentiments over the nuclear deal”.

The IUML leadership has decided to allow Ahamed to continue till the deal gets operationalised - which will take at least three months if not more.

But Ahamed said categorically that the Congress-led UPA had done the most for the Muslim community in the country.

“This is the only government that has done substantially for the benefit and welfare of the minority community. After the independence of the country, it is the UPA government that has sent up a commission - the Rajinder Sachar Committee - to study how far the rights and privileges of minorities were implemented,” the minister said.

He also said around 2.5 million Muslim students have received scholarships and the annual Haj pilgrimage quota for which the government provides subsidy has been increased by 38,000.

“Such a friendly government cannot be destabilised. It was Sonia Gandhi who saved this country from the hands of the BJP (Bharatitya Janata Party) in 2004. Her hands have to be strengthened.”

Pointing out that the Congress-IUML relations were 38 years old, Ahamed criticised the Left’s move to destabilise the government.

“By withdrawing support to the UPA, the Left parties are only benefiting the fascist forces like the BJP,” he maintained.

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