PM says government’s stability won’t be affected; conducts business as usual (Nightlead)

July 8th, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Tarun Basu
Sapporo (Japan), July 8 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said the withdrawal of support by the Left allies would not affect the stability of his government and it would go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “as soon as possible”. The announcement in New Delhi may not have come as a complete surprise for the prime minister, and it did not affect his diplomatic engagements in this picture postcard-pretty northern Japanese city where he has come to attend the outreach sessions of the Group of Eight (G8) summit of the world’s richest and most influential nations and community.

So busy was the prime minister with his back-to-back meetings with world leaders that he did not meet the large Indian media delegation accompanying him. But a foreign correspondent managed to get the all important quote from him that people back home were waiting for.

Asked if the withdrawal of Communist support would affect his government, the prime minister, while coming out of a meeting of the five Outreach nations (China, Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico besides India) remarked: “I don’t think it will affect the stability of the government.”

Asked when the government will go to the IAEA, a point on which the Left has pulled out parliamentary support, he said: “As soon as possible.”

These seem to have been minor distractions for the resolute prime minister who, according to Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, made no change in his programme due to the political crisis back home that kept the media here agog.

The prime minister, his aides said, was busy in meetings with heads of state and government attending the Japan summit of the world’s richest as well as key emerging and developing nations from all continents. The prime minister met leaders of China, Mexico, South Korea and was busy in a summit of the five Outreach nations when the news from New Delhi came.

The journalists were also starved of news as all the aides here were those from the non-political establishment. These included National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Menon and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Climate Change Shyam Saran. Even Sanjaya Baru, the prime minister’s media adviser, has not come on this trip, leaving the prime minister’s media relations to a junior official.

Journalists tried their best to elicit a reaction from Menon during his briefing on the meetings. But he cleverly parried them, saying as foreign secretary he could not comment on the political developments or their impact on India’s external relations and was only concerned with dealing with the implementation of these policies.

To a question as to the precise date when India would approach the IAEA, he said: “You’ll get to know when that happens”

But he said the number of countries supporting India on this was steadily increasing, judging by the support received from many Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) members during their meeting here, and there was no reason to believe that the exemptions that India has been seeking for its civilian nuclear programme would be a “particularly difficult process”.

The only political person on the trip is Shahid Siddiqui, Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP and general secretary, but he was here in his media avatar - as editor of his Urdu paper Nai Duniya.

Siddiqui quipped: “The fact that I am here at this time shows the government is safe… and there is no crisis.”

The Samajwadi Party has pledged support to the government over the nuclear deal and Manmohan Singh told accompanying newspersons on his flight to Sapporo that he was not afraid of facing parliament.

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