CPI writes to PM on n-deal, threatens to withdraw support

March 8th, 2008 - 12:00 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
(Second Lead)

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Stepping up pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government over the India-US nuclear deal, the Communist Party of India (CPI) Friday warned that the Left parties would withdraw their support if the government decides to go ahead with the contentious pact. Communist party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan wrote to Manmohan Singh for the first time directly, cautioning that the Left would have no option but to pull down the government if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) decided to operationalise the nuclear agreement with Washington.

“Should the government decide to push the deal, we will not and cannot be a party to go along with the government,” Bardhan reportedly said in his letter.

The UPA government survives with the outside support of the Left parties.

Although the Left parties, which have been vehemently opposing the civil nuclear agreement, had issued threats publicly, Bardhan’s letter is the first of its kind to the prime minister.

Bardhan also pooh-poohed the government’s claim that it was trying to evolve a “broad based consensus” to make the deal a reality.

According to Bardhan, it sounded “hollow” when it was clear that there was no consensus in favour of the deal and the majority in parliament was opposing it.

The CPI leader also criticized Manmohan Singh’s call to former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee to rise above narrow politics and support the deal for national interests.

“It is an open effort to canvass BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party) support to push the deal,” Bardhan said.

Lauding Vajpayee as the “Bhishma Pitamah” (father figure) of Indian politics, Manmohan Singh asked the BJP leader to “listen to the call of his conscience” and back the deal.

Sources said the prime minister’s call to Vajpayee and the opposition prompted Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat to immediately discuss the matter with his allies in other Left parties and then write to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for an urgent meeting of the UPA-Left nuclear committee.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the government is not in favour of going ahead with its nuclear deal with the US without carrying along the Left parties that have virtually issued an ultimatum to the government on the issue.

“A minority government cannot, need not and should not sign a major agreement like this,” Mukherjee told the Outlook magazine in an attempt to dispel the Left’s fears that the government is planning to push ahead with the deal in the face of stiff opposition of supporting parties.

“First, the consensus will be with the supporting parties,” Mukherjee said. “Then, we shall try to evolve a larger consensus,” he said.

He was alluding to the ruling coalition’s efforts to forge “broadest possible consensus” on the deal, which can lead to the collapse of the government if the Left parties withdraw their support.

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