Congress-Samajwadi Party talks on, Left attacks PM again (Roundup)

July 1st, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) Setting the stage for political realignments, the Samajwadi Party Tuesday voiced its readiness to back India’s beleaguered ruling coalition as the Communists accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of disregarding parliament while taking forward the India-US nuclear deal. Although Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh did not specify in so many words if they would prop up Manmohan Singh’s government if the Left withdrew its support over the nuclear row, they gave enough indications that they were prepared to shake hands with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“We do not have any enemies… The Congress is not an untouchable,” party chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav told reporters after consulting senior party colleagues here.

And while the Congress did not say how far the Samajwadi Party would go to save the government with its 39 Lok Sabha MPs, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad declared that the UPA was confident of securing the Samajwadi Party’s support to save the multi-party government and the deal.

“Mulayam Singh is with us. We will save the government and the deal,” Lalu Prasad told NDTV.

Mulayam Singh’s statement came after his confidant Amar Singh talked to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday night for over an hour.

Amar Singh, who announced that his party was willing to consider “new facts” on the nuclear deal, is expected to meet National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan Wednesday when the government is to give a presentation on the deal.

Amar Singh said he had told Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury not to do anything that would strengthen “communal forces”.

The CPI-M, however, intensified its attack on the prime minister saying that his “repetition” of the proposal to go ahead with the nuclear deal despite disapproval by the majority in parliament showed his “obsession” with the US and his “disregard” for parliament.

“The repetition of the proposal by the prime minister shows a disregard for parliament. It reveals nothing but an obsession to fulfil the commitment made to (US) President (George W.) Bush in July 2005, in which the people of this country and parliament had no say,” the CPI-M said in a statement here.

Manmohan Singh Monday offered to abide by the “sense of the house” if the government was allowed to complete the process of negotiations over the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The Communists have asked the government not to finalise the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a move crucial to carry forward the 123 agreement with the US.

The UPA, cornered by threats that the Left would withdraw support if it went ahead with the nuclear deal, is desperately looking at the Samajwadi Party to ward off early elections.

Although External Affairs Minister Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony are the official interlocutors, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who met Karat Tuesday, is believed to be pressurizing the Communists to delay the process of withdrawal of support to the government.

The Samajwadi Party’s go-soft-on-Congress has triggered speculation that Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was getting close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But state leaders of both parties denied the reports.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati told a press conference in Lucknow: “The nuclear deal is anti-Muslim and the Samajwadi Party has taken a u-turn on the nuke deal.”

Mayawati’s statement - presumably with an eye on the Muslim support base the Samajwadi party enjoys - invited the ire of both Amar Singh and the Congress.

“I don’t want to comment on a baseless comment of a chief minister, who has got a biased and a disrupted mindset. She had said that Muslim temperament is mercurial. She doesn’t have any right to talk about the minorities,” said Amar Singh.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said: “Any political party which is trying to communalise this issue is doing the greatest disservice to this country.”

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