N-deal tangle gets knottier - PM gives green signal, Left red (Lead)

June 30th, 2008 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) The schism between the government and the Left deepened Monday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declaring his intention to go ahead with the India-US nuclear deal and the CPI-M reiterating it would part ways if that were to happen. As the clouds of uncertainty over his government darkened over the controversial civil nuclear deal, the prime minister said categorically that he wanted to finalise the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreement.

“I have said it before. I will repeat it again that you allow us to complete the process. Once the process is over, I will bring it before parliament and abide by the house,” Manmohan Singh told reporters at his residence after releasing the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which has asserted on that it would pull down the government if the nuclear deal were taken forward, said there was no change in its stance.

“We stand by what our politburo said Sunday. There is no change in our stance,” CPI-M politburo member S. Ramachandra Pillai told IANS.

The prime minister, however, said he was prepared to revert to parliament once the process of finalising the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA and taking the consent of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for resuming New Delhi’s nuclear commerce was over.

The prime minister, who said the Communists’ opposition was not new, also expressed the hope that his government would be able to address the concerns raised by all concerned parties. “…We can still work out an outcome that will satisfy all parties.”

The ruling Congress party echoed the view.

“We stand committed to the nuclear deal and bringing on board all those who support us from outside and people and society,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said. “The channel of dialogue is always open.”

The Congress, still divided over taking the support of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, is open to the option.

“If the Congress manages to get the Samajwadi party on board, we will have a strong ally in Uttar Pradesh, where the party has failed to make any impact for the last few years,” said a Congress leader.

Despite apprehensions about how trustworthy the Samajawadi Party is, the party leadership appears keen to shake hands with it. At a meeting of Congress general secretaries and those in-charge of states, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also believed to have expressed her desire to back Manmohan Singh.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, who is abroad, is expected to return Monday night. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party is likely to take a decision on its ties with the Congress after the general secretary’s arrival.

Mulayam Singh has announced that the third grouping United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), launched to form a non-Congress and non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front, will finalise its stance over the deal Thursday.

The next day, the CPI-M and other Left parties will meet.

Although UNPA allies like the TDP have publicly said they would persuade the Samajwadi Party against backing Congress, Mulayam Singh said Monday: “We do not have enmity with anyone.”

The CPI-M-led Left parties, which have 61 MPs in the Lok Sabha, prop up Manmohan Singh’s coalition government.

After a meeting of the party politburo Sunday, the CPI-M issued a statement: “In case the government decides to go ahead with such a harmful agreement, which has no majority support in parliament, the CPI-M will withdraw support to the UPA government in concert with the Left parties.”

The office bearers of the Congress are meeting Tuesday to discuss the party’s stance in the wake of the CPI-M’s declaration.

“If we have to get the deal approved by the US Congress, we have to get the IAEA final nod by the first half of July,” said a minister in Manmohan Singh’s government.

He said the government had to get the India-specific safeguards agreement approved by IAEA board of governors by the first half of July and the consent of the NSG by August-September. The timeframe would have to be kept “so the special session of the US Congress, which is meeting in October, can pass the 123 agreement”.

“If we have to save the deal, we have to finalise the IAEA pact as early as possible,” the minister added.

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