M A I N   N E W S

123: Political deal in 4 days
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 27
The government appears to be buckling under the pressure exerted by the Left parties by agreeing to set up a mechanism in four days and virtually putting on hold the operationalisation of the nuclear deal.

Although there is no official word yet on the non-operationalisation of the deal, CPM leaders, after a meeting with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, said the mechanism to address the concerns raised by the Left parties on the deal would be in place within four days.

“The talks on the mechanism would continue for a couple of days and the mechanism would be announced by the end of this month,” Sitaram Yechury, CPM leader, said after the meeting.

Mukherjee met CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, politburo member Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary A. B. Bardhan, national secretary D. Raja, and the party’s national executive member, Gurudas Dasgupta.

The external affairs minister is expected to meet the leaders of the All India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, which have been demanding the Left partners to withdraw support to the UPA coalition on the mechanism issue.

He is also likely to meet the UPA allies on the issue after briefing the progress in the talks to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister.

Bardhan discussed not just the kind of mechanism to be set up, but also issues to be discussed by it — evaluation of the Hyde Act and its implications on India.

The four Left parties in their August 20 meeting had asserted that they were not opposed to the setting up of a committee or mechanism to evaluate the Act, but only if the government decided not to take the next step.

He highlighted the issue at the 90-minute meeting, which was also attended by defence minister A.K. Antony and political secretary to the Congress president, in which the ambit of the mechanism was also discussed.

“We had a discussion on the issue of the opposition to the deal. We discussed all questions. It was decided that a mechanism should be worked out,” Bardhan said.

He said the two sides agreed that the mechanism should be at the political level.

“We have told Mukherjee the same thing, that the Left parties at that very meeting had made it categorically clear that the government should not proceed further with the next step of negotiations for the safeguards agreement with the IAEA,” he said.

Bardhan, accompanied by Dasgupta and D. Raja, said a “political mechanism” was a must, as “the experts’ panel is not going to solve” the problem.

He said the Congress leadership would hold separate discussions with the CPM, Forward Bloc and the RSP.

“After they have come to a conclusion, a formal meeting will be held,” Bardhan said.

The mechanism will avail the services of the technical and diplomatic experts to be announced by Sonia Gandhi after the Prime Minister and the Congress core group brief her on the Left viewpoint, sources said.



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