Nothing more to say, we don’t want n-deal: Karat

May 15th, 2008 - 4:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) With the clock ticking away for the UPA-Left meeting May 28, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat has said that his party has “nothing new to say” and doesn’t want the government to go ahead with the India-US civil nuclear deal. “Our stand is very clear. There is nothing new to say,” Karat told IANS when asked if there is any hope of a breakthrough at the next meeting over the nuclear deal between leaders of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its Communist allies.

“We have asked the government not to proceed with the deal. That’s our stand and it will not change,” Karat said, when asked if the Left would do a rethink in the light of China’s reported nuclear deal with Pakistan and a nuclear deal between the US and Russia.

Karat’s views reflect the determination of the Left parties backing the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to torpedo the nuclear deal, which they suspect will rob India of strategic autonomy and reduce it to a junior partner of the US.

Reinforcing the Left’s hostility to the deal, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader A.B. Bardhan said recently that the CPI would withdraw support to the UPA coalition if it went ahead with the deal.

Bardhan, however, qualified this by saying that the Left parties won’t topple the government and allow it to continue as a minority government.

The government appears resigned to the Left’s opposition to the deal but it has not given up its efforts to forge a political consensus. It is still reaching out to parties such as the Samajwadi Party.

Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh said last week that his party was ready to discuss the nuclear deal if the government was willing to place new facts before the party - a statement that was seen as an expression of its souring relations with the Left on women’s reservation bill.

The UPA is not keen to sign the deal as a minority government in the event the Left withdraw its legislative support.

“For the IAEA or US, it would be difficult to have such an agreement with a government that has lost majority. So we have to carry our partners along,” Mukherjee had said in January.

In its renewed bid to win over critics, the government has seized upon the endorsement of the nuclear deal by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Speaking to IANS, Kalam, the architect of India’s missile programme and one of the key players in Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, said the deal would not compromise the country’s sovereignty.

In a telephonic conversation with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Mukherjee is understood to have conveyed to her India’s difficulties in operationalsing the deal, but added that the government was still trying to forge a consensus.

The last meeting between the UPA and the Left parties May 6 ended without any change in the position of the Communist parties. The next UPA-Left meeting May 28 is expected to be a make or break affair.

If, by then, the Left does not approve of the government’s safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - necessary before the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) decides to change its guidelines in favour of nuclear trade with India, there is little possibility of the deal going forward this year.

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