Sonia praises Manmohan, Left attacks on n-deal (Lead)

June 27th, 2008 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) The Congress leadership Friday clearly indicated it was backing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the ongoing row with the Left parties on the India-US nuclear deal, even as the government held out hope of “an acceptable settlement” being found after addressing the concerns of various political parties. “I have no hesitation in extending to him, on behalf of myself and all of you (Congress party members), congratulations for the achievements of the government,” Congress president and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chair Sonia Gandhi said.

In a letter to party workers reproduced in the Congress party magazine ‘Sandesh’, she wrote: “It is not often, we have a leader who lets his work speak for itself rather than making lofty speeches.”

Though Gandhi did not specifically mention the nuclear deal, her wholesome praise for the prime minister comes at a time when he is under severe attack from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front for his “obsession” to push through the nuclear deal by ignoring other important issues that were affecting the common man.

“We are currently engaged in resolving the issues. It will be possible to arrive at an acceptable settlement,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters when asked whether the government was planning to go ahead with the nuclear deal.

The Left stance was reiterated by CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat in the latest issue of party organ People’s Democracy.

“The country is watching the spectacle of a leadership which is obsessed with its vision of becoming a strategic partner of the US and fulfilling its commitment to an American president who is reviled around the world and has least credibility within his own country,” Karat wrote.

“One can only hope that the Congress leadership will realize the serious consequences of pursuing a pro-US line which can only benefit the rightwing communal forces in the country,” he added.

External affairs ministry officials say the political leadership has told them that “we are determined to go ahead with the deal”.

But a former US diplomat has expressed doubts whether there was enough time to get the 123 agreement on operationalising the nuclear passed on Capitol Hill.

Former US assistant secretary of state Robin Raphel told IANS in London that the deal may not be dead, but it was unlikely it would happen this year.

“It’s not dead deed. But I don’t think it will happen this year - it will take some more time,” Raphel, who served in the first four years of the Clinton presidency, said.

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the G-8 meet in Japan next month. The government wants to complete its consultations and negotiations with the UPA allies and the Left parties before that meeting to take a final decision on the nuclear deal.

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