UPA-Left n-deal panel may meet March 17

March 10th, 2008 - 10:09 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) The United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Left parties committee is likely to meet March 17 to discuss the government’s latest position on the contentious India-US civil nuclear deal, against which the communists have given a fresh ultimatum last week. According to sources in the Left, the 15-member committee, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will meet next Monday. The government is expected to inform the committee about the details of its discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the India-specific safeguard agreement.

Irked by indications that the government was going ahead with finalising the IAEA negotiations, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat wrote to Mukherjee asking for an urgent meeting of the UPA-Left committee to discuss the status of the contentious deal.

Although Karat sought a meeting by March 15, the sources said it could take place two days later as both Left leaders and others in the committee would be travelling for various purposes.

“We wanted the meeting to be held before the foreign minister (Mukherjee) leaves for Washington for further talks,” said a senior CPI-M leader.

In his letter to Mukherjee, Karat is believed to have drawn the government’s attention to media reports that India has managed to nearly finalise a safeguards pact with IAEA except for the phraseology of the draft text on fuel guarantees.

Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warning that the Left parties would withdraw their support if the government decided to go ahead with the deal.

The UPA government survives with the outside support of the Left parties.

Bardhan and Karat, whose CPI-M echoed the CPI feelings in an article in the latest issue of its mouthpiece, were reportedly annoyed by Manmohan Singh’s call 34to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the opposition to support the deal.

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