Congress, UPA expected to authorise PM to decide on n-deal

June 20th, 2008 - 12:14 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS)The main ruling Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) it leads are expected to authorise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take a final decision on the India-US nuclear deal which is facing uncertainties. The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the apex decision-making body of the party, is likely to meet in the weekend, followed by a meeting of the UPA, and both were likely to authorise the prime minister to decide the future of the nuclear deal amid continued resistance from the Left parties, government sources said late Thursday.

Thursday saw a series of meetings involving Congress ministers, alliance leaders and communists as they discussed a range of possibilities to resolve the stalemate over the nuclear deal.

The Left parties that prop up the Manmohan Singh government have refused to dilute their opposition to the deal, even as the Congress wants to save the pact that can open doors of global civil nuclear commerce for India.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal and Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, held a meeting.

Mukherjee later separately met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who heads the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, who heads the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) - both key allies of the Congress.

Mukherjee also met Sitaram Yechury, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which leads the four-party Left Front.

According to the sources, one of the suggestions emerging from the meetings was that the government could approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) with the draft of the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is yet to be signed pending a green signal from the Left, before taking the pact to the board of governors of the UN atomic watchdog.

The pact with the IAEA, followed by a change in the NSG’s guidelines, are the next two key steps required to make the nuclear deal operational.

According to the sources, the Left parties indicated to the government that even if they withdrew support they would not seek a floor test in parliament that could jeopardise the UPA regime.

Parliament’s monsoon session was also likely to be postponed to mid-August, the sources said, adding that if the prime minister decided to go ahead and sign the nuclear deal, it would take place only after the monsoon session.

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