M A I N   N E W S

Nuclear wheeling and dealing hots up
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 20
The UPA government is hoping to be bailed out by the SP and the BSP if the Left carries through its threat of support withdrawal on the Indo-US nuclear deal, and the opposition BJP moves a no-confidence motion.

Meanwhile, the government made one more effort today through external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who held separate meetings at his residence with CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI national secretary D Raja and persuaded them to agree to India signing the nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The IAEA agreement is a precondition for approaching the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group for nuclear fuel.

But emerging from Mukherjee’s residence, Karat told the mediapersons, “No change in our stand”. The meeting with Raja was carrying on till late night, but the CPI was unlikely to break ranks with the other Left parties.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is very keen on pushing through the agreement and has convinced Congress president Sonia Gandhi to back him fully.

The four-times postponed meeting of the UPA-Left coordination committee to secure Left consent on nuclear safeguards agreement is slated for June 25. But so far there are no signs of the Left budging from its stand.

Meanwhile, on the SP/BSP front, important leaders of both parties remained non-committal whether they have been approached and who has approached them. But they made identical comments when asked whether they will bail out the government. Leaders from both parties said, “Why should we commit ourselves now? Let’s us wait and see which way things turn out.”

But, privately SP sources indicated that in case of such an eventuality, “We may walk out. After all, the Left will also stage a walk out. It cannot be seen standing with the BJP against this government. Then between the UPA and the NDA, the UPA numbers are definitely higher than the NDA and this will see through the government,” said a close confidant of SP general secretary and spokesman Amar Singh.

As for the BSP, chief minister Mayawati had sought a Rs 80,000-crore package for the development of Uttar Pradesh. And sources indicated that the Prime Minister had to promise some concrete commitment on the package to persuade Mayawati to stand with the government on this issue.



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