Go slow on n-deal, save government, PM advised (Lead)June 23rd, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Two days ahead of a crucial meeting of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Left nuclear committee, a poll-wary Congress is mounting pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to save the government till it has inflation under control before pushing the India-US nuclear deal. The ruling party, which is under severe pressure from its allies, is trying to convince Manmohan Singh and the pro-deal lobby that letting the government collapse over the nuclear deal would not be an “electorally wise decision,” party sources told IANS.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is believed to have urged Manmohan Singh to look at ways to resolve amicably the row with the Communists over the nuclear deal, according to the sources.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who arrives here Monday, is expected to convey the same message to Manmohan Singh.
The sources said that Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had sought time Saturday from the prime minister and Gandhi to tide over the inflation that has touched a 13-year high at 11.05 percent.
“The nuclear issue is not something that can fetch the party votes, specially when the common man is facing such a steep price rise,” admitted a Congress Working Committee member who did not want to be named.
The Congress allies also feel that the UPA is unlikely to gain from a snap Lok Sabha election when prices of food and essential commodities are soaring.
“It (going to polls on nuclear issue) will not only be unwise but will be harmful also. The common man is not concerned about the nuclear deal,” Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Tariq Anwar told IANS.
“People are not happy with the government’s performance because of the steep prices of essential commodities. Besides, Muslims in the country also do not want a deal with (US President George W.) Bush,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
According to the sources in the UPA, more and more allies seem to be backing the Left as far as stalling early elections are concerned although they support the nuclear deal with Washington.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a major ally of the Congress in Kerala, however has threatened to quit the coalition if the government went ahead with the nuclear deal.
In an interview with Kairali news channel, IUML leader Panakkad Shihab Thangal said the party would reconsider its support to the central government and withdraw Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed from the council of ministers if the nuclear deal became operational.
At a meeting with Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Communist Party of India leader D. Raja Sunday, Karunanidhi warned that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would gain from the disarray in the UPA camp.
The CPI-M-led Left parties, which prop up the Congress-led coalition, oppose the nuclear deal and have vowed to withdraw their support to the government if it went ahead with it.
A senior Left leader said Karunanidhi was of the view that an immediate general election would bring the BJP back to power in New Delhi.
Among the UPA allies, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who support the nuclear deal, have underlined the need to take the Left on board.
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