Congress may delay IAEA approach, monsoon session (Lead)

July 4th, 2008 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) The ruling Congress was Thursday mulling whether the government’s chances of survival would brighten if the IAEA approach was delayed and parliament’s monsoon session pushed to mid-August, as was already being considered in some official quarters. Even as an endorsement of the nuclear deal by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam seemed to have eased the pressure on the government to an extent on Thursday, an effort was also afoot to delink the forthcoming G-8 summit from finalising the nuclear accord and focus more on climate change.

Party sources said there was a suggestion to approach the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in August and also push the monsoon session, usually held in the third week of July, by some weeks to avert an immediate separation from the Left parties.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will soon meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the suggestions before taking a final decision, they added.

By delaying approach to the IAEA, the Congress may give the Left parties the excuse not to withdraw their support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government immediately and also have the requisite time to enlist support from the 39-member Samajwadi Party and some others to survive in the event a no-confidence motion was moved in parliament.

Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his party colleague Amar Singh met Kalam for an expert’s view on the contentious nuclear deal.

After the meeting, they told journalists that Kalam had said the nuclear deal was “in the interest of the nation”.

Yadav also added: “Without the interest of the nation, there is no politics.”

But the Samajwadi Party still refused to commit itself categorically on supporting the government in the event the Left parties withdrew their support. “We will announce our decision after consulting our partners in the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA),” Yadav added.

Since the much-needed support from the Samajwadi Party and some of its allies still seemed uncertain, the government was seriously looking at ways to solve the political deadlock.

One way the Congress was thinking of doing so was by de-linking the nuclear deal from the forthcoming G-8 Summit in Japan next week. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the meeting and will also meet US President George W. Bush.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat had earlier this week maintained that Manmohan Singh’s decision to go for the G-8 will be tantamount to India approaching the IAEA.

But now the attempt is to highlight the fact that the meeting in Japan was to focus on arriving at a consensus on the important issue of climate change.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader A.B. Bardhan made it clear Thursday that the Left parties’ decision to withdraw support from the government would depend on the latter’s decision to approach the IAEA for signing an India-specific safeguards agreement.

In a day of high drama, the Samajwadi Party and the other members of the UNPA met at the residence of Amar Singh for over four hours to discuss the political crisis. After the meeting, the UNPA leaders held a joint press conference to announce that there was “no split in the UNPA and it was speaking in one voice”.

The UNPA leaders made it clear that they were not yet giving the government a certificate of their support until efforts were made by the prime minister to start a national debate on the issue of the nuclear deal. The UNPA leaders pointed out that they will get the views of experts to form an opinion on the nuclear deal.

While a beleaguered Congress put up a brave face saying it was confident of completing its five-year term, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been passive vis-a-vis the political turmoil until now, became pro-active in a bid to trip the ruling party.

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