Karat to PM: Forget US obsession, take up people’s issues (Lead)

June 27th, 2008 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) Accusing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government of being “obsessed with its vision of becoming a strategic partner of the US”, Communist leader Prakash Karat Friday warned that ignoring people’s issues would benefit “rightwing forces” in electoral politics. “The country is watching the spectacle of a leadership which is obsessed with its vision of becoming a strategic partner of the US and fulfilling its commitment to an American president who is reviled around the world and has the least credibility within his own country,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary said in an article published in the latest issue of the party mouthpiece People’s Democracy.

Karat, who has been vehemently opposing the India-US civil nuclear agreement, added: “If the priorities of our country and the people are kept in mind, the government should be engaged on a war footing to curb inflation and price rise and take urgent measures to provide relief to the people. But the last fortnight has exposed what the priorities of the government are.”

He warned the government of the consequences. “One can only hope that the Congress leadership will realise the serious consequences of pursuing a pro-US line which can only benefit the rightwing communal forces in the country.”

Karat, who has warned the government against going ahead with the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), alleged that the schedule set out by the US was “impelling the prime minister to go ahead regardless of the consequences”.

The CPI-M-led Left parties, which prop the Congress-led coalition government oppose the government’s move to finalise the IAEA pact, a crucial step to take the nuclear agreement ahead. The strain in the ties between the Left and the Congress has put a question mark on the future of the government.

Karat, who has conveyed to the government that the Left would withdraw its legislative support if the government went ahead with the deal, blamed Manmohan Singh’s “renewed bid to go to the IAEA for seeking the approval of the Board of Governors on the text of the safeguards agreement” for the current crisis.

He said the prime minister’s “urgency” runs contrary to the understanding arrived at the Nov 16 meeting of the UPA-Left nuclear committee, formed to address the concerns raised by the Communists over the deal.

“The Left had explicitly stated that without its concurrence there should be no step forward on the IAEA front. This was acknowledged by the Congress leadership,” the CPI-M leader said.

“The committee has not arrived at any conclusions on the nature of the safeguards agreement nor has the committee reached its findings after which only the government can think of proceeding.”

According to Karat, the “urgency” was at the “insistence of the Bush administration” so the Americans could take the step of formally initiating the process in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to get a waiver for nuclear trade with India.

“The Bush administration knows very well that there is no time for the 123 Agreement to be passed by the current US Congress. By the time the NSG clearance is got it will be too late for the US Congress to consider and adopt the 123 law.

“President Bush wants to ensure in the last few discredited months of his presidency that at least the Indo-US nuclear deal will remain as a legacy to be taken up by the next president. This will have some certainty if the NSG clearance is got before his term expires.”

The Communist leader refused to buy the government’s assurance that it would not move ahead after finalising the IAEA agreement.

“Everyone knows that under the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement, the US has the responsibility to shepherd India’s case in the NSG of which India is not a member.”

Karat pointed out that the consultation process in the NSG for the 123 agreement has already been initiated by the US. Quoting former chairperson of the NSG, Abdul S. Minty, he said the process with the NSG would begin only after the completion of the IAEA agreement.

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