Government going ahead with n-deal despite Left threat

June 29th, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) A parting of ways between the Manmohan Singh government and the Left allies seems inevitable with the Congress leadership urging its workers to prepare for elections by Aug 31 and the leading Communist party Sunday responding with renewed threat to withdraw support to the government on the nuclear issue. “We will withdraw support if the government goes ahead with the nuclear deal with the US by signing a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters after a crucial meeting of the party’s politburo here.

“The government must not go ahead with the nuclear deal,” he asserted.

But going by indications both in the external affairs ministry establishment and in the ruling Congress party, there was no re-thinking on pursuing the nuclear deal. On the contrary, South Block officials have been maintaining for the past few days that they have been “politically” told that “the government was determined to go ahead with the nuclear deal”.

Predictably, this has rejuvenated sections in the external affairs ministry, particularly those who for the past three years have been working closely with the US and other countries to ensure that the civilian nuclear agreement goes through.

The CPI-M general secretary’s assertion Sunday afternoon, which comes in the wake of the authorisation that he has been given by the party’s central committee, shows that the Left parties are also now preparing themselves for a scenario where the parting of ways with the Congress has become inevitable.

The CPI-M and the other three Left parties together have 59 members in the Lok Sabha and have so far been supporting the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside.

If the Left Front decides to withdraw support, the government will be in minority but may survive with support from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party which has 39 members in the lower house of parliament.

But a lot will also depend on whether or not the Left parties would want to vote along with the main opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), to throw out the Congress-led coalition.

On Saturday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi at a meeting with senior leaders of the party told Congress workers to be prepared for elections by Aug 31.

The party leadership did stocktaking of the situation prevailing in the organisation, particularly in the six states that are scheduled to have assembly elections by the year-end: Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

Her remarks obviously were directed not only at Congress workers in these six states, but also to all others.

There is a growing view in the capital’s political circles that the Congress may opt for early elections - perhaps by the year-end, instead of waiting to complete its entire term that gets over by May 2009.

However, with inflation hitting double digits and prices of oil and food items rising steadily, the Congress-led government will also have to decide on the timing for the next elections.

Meanwhile, foreign ministry officials are hopeful that with the political backing behind them, they will be able to meet a September deadline to get the nuclear deal through.

A clearer picture on this will emerge after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the G-8 meeting in Japan early next month.

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