Left issues ultimatum to government over n-deal

March 6th, 2008 - 7:45 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
(Second Lead)

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) India’s Left parties that prop up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government Thursday issued a fresh warning on the India-US nuclear deal stating that the future of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government depended on what decision it took on the contentious pact. After a discussion with his smaller allies, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat stepped up pressure on the government by seeking a meeting of the UPA-Left nuclear committee on the issue by March 15.

Cautioning the government against going ahead with the agreement despite opposition from the Left and other parties, the CPI-M said in an article headlined ‘Turning Point Has Arrived’ in the party mouthpiece People’s Democracy: “It will amount to a gross violation of the majority opinion in parliament”.

“The Left parties will take all the necessary steps to stop the government from taking such a harmful step,” stated the article by a ‘political commentator’, believed to be echoing the views of Karat.

“It is for the Congress leadership to decide whether it wants to be seen as kowtowing to the pressure of the (US President George W) Bush administration or acting democratically and heeding the voice of parliament and the people. And this decision has to be a quick and clear one.

“The future of this government depends on the decision they will take,” the CPI-M said.

Karat, who had discussions with Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja Thursday morning, wrote to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the 15-member UPA-Left committee, asking Mukherjee to convene an urgent meeting of the panel to inform members about the latest developments.

The CPI-M general secretary also spoke to leaders of the other Left allies - Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Forward Bloc - before sending the letter to Mukherjee.

The article termed recent statements of both Manmohan Singh and Mukherjee in parliament as unfortunate and said it amounted to harping on the government’s efforts to go ahead with the deal.

“If the government thinks that after arriving at an agreed text with the IAEA on a safeguards agreement they can proceed to take the next steps for operationalising the agreement, they are mistaken,” it said.

The CPI-M reiterated that the Left would not give the government the green signal to finalise the safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or take the next step to go to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) given its basic objection to the Hyde Act and the 123 agreement.

The article also lampooned the claims in the media that in its negotiations with the IAEA, New Delhi had managed to get an agreement that would overcome “all the problems posed by the Hyde Act and its 123 progeny”.

“This is, to use an American term, pure baloney! Neither the Hyde Act nor the 123 agreement grants lifetime fuel supply assurance to safeguarded reactors,” it said, adding that it was not within the scope of jurisdiction of the IAEA to provide any assurance for uninterrupted fuel supply or help India build a strategic reserve.

“Neither is it within the powers of the IAEA to spell out corrective measures that can be taken by India in the event of the termination of the fuel supply by a party contracted to do so,” the article pointed out.

It reiterated that it was the US which was the supplying party in the 123 agreement and it would be bound by the provisions of the Hyde Act, which according to the communists, would have implications on India’s independent foreign policy, strategic and security concerns.

In his letter to Mukherjee, Karat has drawn the government’s attention to media reports that India had managed to nearly finalise a safeguards pact with the IAEA except for the phraseology of the draft text on fuel guarantees, the sources said.

The Left has been vehemently opposing the civil nuclear agreement with Washington saying that it would damage India’s independent foreign policy and its indigenous nuclear programme.

However, the Left parties have given a green signal to the government to go ahead with India-specific negotiations with the IAEA on the condition that they are consulted before further steps are taken.

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