A combative PM says n-deal on; don’t need advice from Advani (Lead)July 7th, 2008 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS
By Tarun Basu
On Board Air India One, July 7 (IANS) It was a combative and self-assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - uncharacteristic of the ‘weak’ prime minister image that he had so far projected - who declared Monday that his government was committed to go ahead with the nuclear deal in “national interest” but if the issue forced him to go to parliament he was “not afraid” to do so. It was clear from his quick-fire responses to mediapersons accompanying on his trip to Sapporo, in the northern Japanese island Hokkaido, to attend the G8 summit’s Outreach meetings, that the prime minister - breaking his silence publicly for the first time after the crisis came to a head with his Left allies over the nuclear deal with the United States - that he had decided to go ahead with the deal irrespective of what the Communists planned to do, including withdrawing support to his government.
He said the concerns of the Left had been addressed by him and “we have no obligation on us to do anything other than in response to our national interest”.
He scoffed at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani’s suggestion that the government should go for elections as the Left had threatened to withdraw critical support to it, saying “We are not afraid of facing parliament”.
And added: “Mr Advani need not give any advice to us.”
Asserting that he was “not worried” by the political crisis that has threatened the survival of his government, Manmohan Singh said his government was “equipped” to deal with any contingency. But he did not “foresee elections before time”. The term of the current Lok Sabha ends in May 2009.
The prime minister met mediapersons within half an hour of takeoff and answered questions with ease for a good 30 minutes - not pondering for a moment on answers nor taking the help of any of his officials on facts, whether it be regarding the nuclear deal, climate change, oil crisis and food prices.
What is he going to tell US President George Bush whom he is meeting Wednesday, he was asked.
“Well, I will tell him what I have always told him that we remain committed to the civil nuclear cooperation agreement. It has been my effort and will be my effort to push the civil nuclear cooperation agreement and our government stands committed to it.”
Asked for precise dates when the government will go the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a sore point with the Left which says that going to the Vienna-based atomic energy watchdog to sign an India-specific safeguards pact would be tantamount to going ahead with the deal that they oppose, he said: “I will not like to say it when we are abroad but we will very soon.”
The prime minister, who in a way revels at such international gatherings and in turn is greatly admired and respected for his erudition and intricate knowledge of complex issues, will meet most of the leaders who are here for the G8 (Group of Eight) summit and related meetings with five Outreach nations (India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico) plus special invitees like Australia, South Korea and Indonesia this time.
He said he will seek the support of the world community, through these leaders, on India’s civil nuclear agreement when it goes before the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
(Eds: Here add if necessary fm earlier story and send off quickly.