Left refuses to budge on n-deal ahead of key meet

June 24th, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Ahead of Wednesday’s crucial meeting of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Left nuclear committee, the Left parties vowed not to allow the India-US nuclear deal to go through. The Left stand was made clear by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar here late Monday.

Speaking on behalf of the Congress allies in the UPA, Pawar had suggested that the Left should allow the government to approach the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to decide the India-specific safeguards for the nuclear deal. He added that the UPA allies would ensure that the deal was not operationalised without the Left’s consent.

Sources in the Left said Tuesday that they refused to buy this line of argument. They maintained that the nuclear deal would become operational automatically once the India-specific safeguards were decided.

According to the Left, the only way to stall the deal would be to prevent the government from approaching the IAEA.

The Congress is desperately wooing the Samajwadi Party, which has 37 Lok Sabha MPs, to back the nuclear deal and the UPA government on the floor of Lok Sabha. Two other Samajwadi Party MPs are rebels.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav is expected to meet Karat Tuesday. TDP leader Rajamohan Rao met Karat at the party headquarters here earlier in the day.

The CPI-M is not showing any signs of wavering from its adamant opposition to the deal.

A CPI-M leader reiterated that the Left would withdraw legislative support to the government if it decides to go to the IAEA.

In that case, the Left would meet President Pratibha Patil with a letter announcing its withdrawal of support to the UPA government — to ensure that the nuclear deal was not operationalised.

UPA allies, jittery of a snap poll that might follow a Left desertion, are pinning their hopes on Congress president Sonia Gandhi to resolve the crisis threatening the government’s survival.

So the UPA-Left nuclear committee meeting Wednesday has assumed enormous significance. “A final decision will be taken by the committee,” said Congress spokesperson M. Veerappa Moily.

In an interview to CNN-IBN, Lok Jan Shakti leader and Chemicals and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said: “There is no danger to the government. The government will stay and the Left parties will back the government. We will sort the matter out. Talks are on with UPA allies and the Left. There will surely be a way out.”

Ruling out early elections, Paswan said: “There is no question of an election right now. But we are not scared of polls. The Left parties are our allies, but the nuclear deal is also good for our country. We are trying to score runs and save wickets at the same time.”

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Railway Minister Lalu Yadav met Sonia Gandhi Monday and said allies did not want early polls even though they backed the deal.

Sources in the Congress said that Sonia Gandhi wants to keep the Left on board keeping in mind a post-electoral situation where the Congress and Left may be thrown together to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of power.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however, is believed to be standing firm on supporting the deal.

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