PM readies for G8 amid high drama over n-deal (Roundup)

July 2nd, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Ignoring the Left’s threat to withdraw support to his government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday prepared to go ahead with his trip to Japan to attend the G8 summit where he is likely to discuss the contentious India-US nuclear deal with President George Bush. And in a bid to contain the damage if and when the 61 Left MPs withdraw their support to the Congress-led government, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan briefed Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh about the deal.

In no time, Amar Singh heaped praise on Manmohan Singh, calling him a man with “exceedingly clean image” and urged him to clear existing doubts about the deal to “the country, parliament and people”.

The growing signs of bonhomie between the Congress and BJP came on a day of high drama.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) differed with Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) threat to withdraw support to the government if Manmohan Singh goes to G8, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pledged to press for a trust vote in parliament if the Left parted ways with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and a Samajwadi Party MP and a legislator refused to back any move to support the government and the nuclear deal.

Apparently pleased with the government’s briefing, Amar Singh said: “We have been appraised about the nuclear deal. We want the prime minister to clear the doubts… The prime minister could make a statement in parliament or outside.”

Amar Singh indicated his party’s readiness to back the UPA by saying he did not want “communal forces” - a reference to the BJP - to come to power.

But the main opposition BJP indicated that it would not let the government have a smooth road ahead in parliament.

“If the Left withdraws support from the government, then we will press for the government to prove its majority on the floor of the house,” BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters in Kanpur.

The embattled Congress meanwhile continued its efforts to get as many allies as possible on board to secure the nuclear deal — and its multi-party government.

It received an assurance from Uttar Pradesh leader Ajit Singh that his Rashtriya Lok Dal and its three MPs would support the deal.

In Dubai, External Affairs Minister and Congress chief interlocutor on the nuclear deal Pranab Mukherjee, on his way back from Cairo, met Nationalist Congress Party leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and talked about the political situation.

The Congress’ biggest hope to ward off an immediate crisis, the Samajwadi Party, was also busy confabulating. Its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was closeted with senior colleague Janeshwar Mishra and then with Amar Singh.

Some sources in the party said its Muslim MPs were unhappy supporting the Congress on the nuclear issue. One MP, Munawar Hassan, came out against a tie-up with the Congress.

“If the Samajwadi Party issues a whip (to vote for the government), we will defy it,” the Lok Sabha member from Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh said in Lucknow.

Mulayam Singh’s ally in the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, however, leaned towards the Left because of his party’s antipathy to the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

The UNPA, the third anti-Congress, anti-BJP alternative, is scheduled to meet Thursday. The Left parties will meet the next day.

The Communists too continued their internal discussions. CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan met his CPI-M counterpart Prakash Karat and Janata Dal-Secular leader and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

Although the CPI-M said it would take a final decision on ending support to the government Friday, Bardhan said: “The G8 has nothing to do with the nuclear deal. There is a view that it may not be proper to withdraw support when the prime minister is not in the country. The decision to withdraw support from UPA on Friday (July 4) is unlikely. It may be delayed.”

Karat had said Tuesday that the prime minister’s trip to G8 would be considered a sign that the government was going ahead with the nuclear deal.

The Congress criticised Karat’s remarks. “Going to G8 is part of our obligation to the international community and it has no connection with the deal,” said party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan.

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