Under pressure, Congress looks at n-deal climb down

June 23rd, 2008 - 2:10 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Under pressure from allies, the ruling Congress is looking at fine-tuning its stance in favour of the India-US civil nuclear deal, which has been opposed by the Left, party sources said Sunday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look at ways to resolve “amicably” the stalemate with the communists over the nuclear deal, according to the sources.

The prime minister is strongly in favour of going ahead with the nuclear deal that will open the doors of global civil nuclear commerce to India after three decades, but the Left parties that prop up the Untied Progressive Alliance (UPA) government are opposed to it.

Congress leaders said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram during his meeting with the prime minister and party president Saturday had sought more time to bring soaring prices under control, limiting the party’s options to go for early elections.

While a large section of the Congress is also against early polls, the party is under pressure from its allies within the UPA who want it to respect the Left parties’ views on the nuclear deal.

Among allies, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have publicly underlined the need to take the Left on board even as they have supported the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a major ally of the Congress in Kerala, has threatened to withdraw from the coalition if the Congress-led government went ahead with the nuclear deal.

IUML leader Panakkad Shihab Thangal in an interview to the Kairali news channel said that the party would reconsider its support to the central government and withdraw Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed from the council of ministers if the government moved ahead to make the nuclear deal operational.

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