Deal only after consensus with Left: Pranab

March 7th, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the government is not in favour of going ahead with its nuclear deal with the US without carrying along the Left parties that have virtually issued an ultimatum to the government on the issue. “A minority government cannot, need not and should not sign a major agreement like this,” Mukherjee told the Outlook magazine in an attempt to dispel the Left’s fears that the government is planning to push ahead with the deal in the face of stiff opposition of supporting parties.

“First the consensus will be with the supporting parties,” Mukherjee said. “Then we shall try to evolve a larger consensus,” he said.

He was alluding to the ruling coalition’s efforts to forge “broadest possible consensus” on the deal, which can lead to the collapse of the government if the Left parties withdraw their support.

“If the government does not exist, how can there be an agreement? So we shall have to carry them (Left) along,” he said in remarks that are bound to increase uncertainty about the fate of the nuclear deal, which aims at ending India’s global nuclear isolation after three decades.

Mukherjee’s comments come in the context of renewed uncertainty sparked by the Left’s fresh ultimatum to the government to either choose its survival or the deal.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which heads the four-party Left Front, Thursday asked the government to urgently convene a meeting of the 15-member UPA-Left panel, chaired by Mukherjee, to discuss the status of India’s negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“If the government thinks that after arriving at an agreed text with the IAEA they can proceed to take the next steps for operationalising the agreement, they are mistaken,” an article in a CPI-M mouthpiece, People’s Democracy, said.

“The future of this government depends on the decision they will take,” it said.

According to an understanding reached late last year, the Left parties have to approve India’s IAEA pact, which is in its final stages, before the government can proceed with the deal.

Earlier this week, the White House set a May deadline for India to conclude the IAEA pact and change in guidelines by the NSG allowing resumption of global nuclear commerce with India so that the deal can be ratified by the US Congress by July.

The fate of the deal will depend on the outcome of the Left-UPA meeting, likely next week.

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