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Left-UPA tradeoff
UPA concurs on Iran, Left on PSU selloff
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 21
In a move to buy peace ahead of a stormy Winter Session of Parliament, the UPA government today agreed with the Left parties on the IAEA-Iran issue being resolved within the atomic agency’s purview, while securing a green signal from red flag bearers for the disinvestment of government stakes in proft-making non-navratnas.

“The government informed the Left parties of the progress made through diplomatic efforts to keep Iran’s case within the ambit of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after a two-hour meeting of the Left-UPA Coordination Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“It was noted that the government’s intention was to ensure that the matter remains within the jurisdiction of the IAEA”, he said.

CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury, who was also present at the meeting, said, “Our position has all along been that any dispute about Iran’s nuclear capability should be kept within the confines of the IAEA and not taken to the UN Security Council. Iran is a signatory to the NPT and has its rights and obligations.

“The government has expressed its intention to make all diplomatic efforts to keep the issue within the confines of the IAEA and this concurs with the views always held by the Left.”

Asked about the IAEA findings that Iran’s nuclear mission was based on illegal supply of inputs by controversial Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, Mr Yechury said, “The IAEA made these findings. Let them take a decision on their own findings.”

In the past one week, the Left parties have stepped up pressure on the government on the issue, saying that they would rake it up in Parliament and the government would have to reverse its anti-Iran vote stand at the IAEA.

Asked that if a situation arose at November 24 IAEA meeting wherein the government would need to vote, Mr Yechury said, “The next vote will mean the issue goes to the UN Security Council.

“We will oppose that and the government is also working towards that objective (to avoid vote). There could also be a possibility that a vote is not required at all,” the CPM leader said, adding that the Left parties would await the outcome of the IAEA meeting.

India had voted in support of the European Union resolution at the September 24 meeting of the IAEA in Vienna to refer Iran’s case to the Security Council if Tehran persisted with allegedly developing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the government’s efforts for resource mobilisation received a boost after the Left allies agreed to consider divesting of some profit-making PSUs.

“The Left parties agreed to consider the government’s proposal to disinvest a small portion of equity subject to certain guiding principles in select profit-making non-navaratna enterprises,” Mr Chidambaram said. He added that resources would be raised for the National Investment Fund, which would cater to social sector projects.

“We have identified some such PSUs and shared information with the Left parties. They have agreed to consider the proposals,” Mr Chidambaram said.

Asked whether the Left parties would consider these proposals on a case-to-case basis, he and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury replied in the affirmative.

The government briefed the Left parties about the Volcker Committee report and inquiry instituted by them and the Left parties expressed satisfaction at the steps taken by the Manmohan Singh government on setting up of two inquiry panels into the findings of the UN report. The BJP is likely to rake up this issue in Parliament and pin the government.

The government also gave a note to the Left parties on the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, now before Parliament. Mr Chidambaram said the Left parties had agreed to give their response shortly after discussions with the trade unions.

“Discussions are taking place at different levels, within political parties, with trade unions. At an appropriate time, we will discuss with trade unions also,” he said.

The government also briefed the Left leaders on some Bills it intends to table in Parliament soon. These are the National Disaster Management Authority Bill, Communal Harmony Bill, and Scheduled Tribes (Regulation of Forest Rights) Bill.


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