Hush descends on political circles as Left awaits government response

July 6th, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) After days of frenetic political activity, a hush descended Sunday as Left leaders awaited the Congress’ response to their ultimatum on the India-US nuclear deal and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got ready to leave for Japan Monday morning to attend the G8 summit. The Left parties Friday served a July 7 deadline to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to let them know whether it was going to approach the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for an India-specific safeguards pact — a key step in making the nuclear deal operational.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the four Left parties said: “We wish to know definitely whether the government is proceeding to seek the approval of the safeguards agreement by the Board of Governors of the IAEA. Please let us know the position by 7th July, 2008.”

“We do not know if the government will respond. They have time till tomorrow,” said Abani Roy, leader of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).

Most other Left leaders remained incommunicado with their mobile phones switched off.

Having worked out a survival strategy thanks to the support expressed by the Samajwadi Party, the government is readying to move ahead with the IAEA pact to take the nuclear deal forward - a move that is bound to lead to a final rupture of ties with its Communist allies that are propping up the government.

Congress leaders too were tight-lipped and, despite repeated attempts to contact them, did not comment on the party’s response to the Left’s ultimatum.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, who was in Kolkata Saturday to discuss the political crisis with his party colleagues - party patriarch Jyoti Basu and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhatacharjee, was expected to return to Delhi Sunday.

Left sources said there was still no unanimity on the timing of withdrawing support to the government. “(CPI-M politburo member) Sitaram Yechury is not in favour of withdrawing support when the prime minister is out of India,” said a senior Left leader.

On the sidelines of the G8 summit, the prime minister is scheduled to meet US president George Bush Wednesday, and the two leaders are expected to discuss the progress of the nuclear deal.

Manmohan Singh will return to India Wednesday night.

While Karat was in favour of withdrawing support to the government when the prime minister would leave for the G8 summit, he has been restrained by Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B Bardhan, who is not in favour of linking the nuclear deal issue with the G8 summit.

“The four parties will meet Wednesday to take a final call on the timing of withdrawal of support,” said a senior Left leader.

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