Government prepared to seek more time on n-deal (Night Lead)

June 25th, 2008 - 1:23 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) With its own coalition partners clearly unwilling to face an early election over the stand-off over the India-US nuclear deal, the United Progressive ALliance (UPA) government Tuesday night appeared to be preparing to seek more time to take a decision on the IAEA safeguards agreement. Informed sources told IANS that the Wednesday UPA-Left nuclear panel meeting would not be the last one. The committee members are likely to meet again soon.

“The government would rather listen to allies and their views instead of making a final statement that we are going ahead or not ahead with the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” said a source in the government.

The government is believed to have told the Left that they would call an all-party meeting to take a view on the India-US nuclear deal. The Left, however, rejected the proposal.

The communists apparently wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make a public statement that New Delhi would not go ahead and sign the 123 agreement with Washington, even if it finalised the IAEA pact.

The government, according to sources, is not in a position to make such a statement.

The day witnessed many meetings over the nuclear deal. Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav met Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat Tuesday to discuss the nuclear row.

Earlier in the day, Rammohan Rao of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), another UNPA constituent, also met Karat.

The Congress is wooing the Samajwadi Party to back the UPA government on the deal and on the floor of Lok Sabha. The CPI-M meanwhile announced that its decision-making politburo will meet Sunday to take stock of the latest political situation arising out of the nuclear dispute.

Poll-jittery UPA allies are desperately trying to bridge the widening gap between the Congress and the Left.

Leaders of UPA constituents - Lalu Prasad of Rashtriya Janata Dal and Ramvilas Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party - have tried to convince the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi that while they favour the deal, this was not the right time for a general election.

The allies fear that elections at this juncture when inflation has touched a 13-year-high at 11.05 percent will hurt them electorally.

DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has told Left leaders that a snap poll will only help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the UPA’s main political adversary.

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