UNPA keeps Congress waiting over n-deal (Lead)

July 3rd, 2008 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) A coalition of regional parties including the Samajwadi Party Thursday raised “doubts” on the India-US nuclear deal and sought a national debate on the issue, dealing a blow to the Congress-led government’s bid to stay afloat in the wake of an imminent withdrawal of support by the Left. After nearly four hours of animated discussions, leaders of the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) insisted that the persisting doubts about the viability of the controversial nuclear deal needed to be clarified by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said there was need to look for an independent expert who could explain the nuances of the nuclear deal to the UNPA.

In remarks that made it clear that the UNPA was not satisfied with the briefing given by National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan to Samajwadi Party leaders over the nuclear deal, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said: “We have left it to the PM. We appeal to him for a national debate over it.”

Before the UNPA meeting, Naidu had meetings with the Communist leaders Prakash Karat and A.B. Bardhan, who are resolutely opposed to the nuclear deal.

All UNPA leaders - Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, Naidu and Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD) Om Prakash Chautala - repeatedly insisted that they were “united”, pouring cold water on the Congress’ attempts to wean away the Samajwadi Party to save its government and the nuclear deal.

UNPA leaders also said they remained opposed to the Congress-led government on several issues such as soaring food prices and agricultural policies.

“Till July 6, we are not giving certificate to the government. There should be a national debate on the issue,” former Haryana chief minister Chautala said after the meeting held at Amar Singh’s residence. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves around July 6 for Japan to attend the G8 summit where he is expected to meet US President George Bush.

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