M A I N   N E W S

123 bytes
Karat: Pause or else...
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 18
In a war of nerves, the CPM today left the survival of the Manmohan Singh government in the hands of the Congress-led coalition by warning that operationalisation of the deal would have “serious consequences”.

“It is for the Congress leadership to decide on the matter (nuclear deal) which will have serious consequences for the government and the country,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters after his meeting with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Karat and party’s politburo member Sitaram Yechury apprised them of the decision of the two-day meet of the party’s politburo. The CPI has already stated that it was in favour of review of the support extended to the UPA and keen on merit-based support to the government. The four Left parties are expected to meet later this week after the nuclear debate in Parliament to decide on the next course of action.

The Left parties, which are supporting the government from outside, do not want to take the blame of pulling down the government. However, they do not want to be seen as coy in dealing with the ruling coalition after the Prime Minister challenged the Left to withdraw support.

Asked in the context of Prime Minister’s challenge to the Left to withdraw support, whether he had suggested to him to quit, Karat said, “I have not suggested anything. I have suggested don’t take the next step.”

The politburo in a resolution said it “is of the firm opinion that going ahead with this (123) agreement will not serve India’s interests.”

It said, “Given the widespread opposition to the agreement and the fact that a majority in Parliament do not support the nuclear cooperation deal, the government should not proceed further with the agreement.”

He said the agreement should be seen in the light of the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress and in the context of the wider implications of India being bound into a strategic alliance with the US and its adverse consequences for an independent foreign policy.

The CPM said, “Till all objections are considered and the implications of the Hyde Act evaluated, the government should not take the next step with regard to negotiating a safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Maintaining that the government was aware of the strong reservations on the deal by a majority in Parliament, Karat said the democratic way would be to up on hold the agreement till the doubts and apprehensions are clarified.

“The agreement should not be seen as a narrow party issue, it concerns the entire country and it is going to be a long-term agreement and we are going to have safeguards in perpetuity,” he said.

Stating that the views of the Left with regard to US are well known, Karat said on foreign policy we have told the Congress leadership that they have historically played a role of having consensus on foreign policy and the Left parties have been supporting their non-aligned stand.

“Unfortunately on the implications of the nuclear agreement and its consequences on foreign policy, there is no consensus,” he said.

The Parliament is expected to discuss the nuclear issue in this week under Rule 193, which does not involve voting. The government could face lot of embarrassment with Left parties, Samajwadi Party and the NDA voicing their opposition to the deal and the voice of the government would be in minority.


Cong goes into huddle
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 18
The Congress leadership was struggling tonight to find ways to resolve the crisis over the Indo-US nuclear agreement after Left leaders told the government in no uncertain terms that it should not go ahead with the deal as it was unacceptable to them.

The party’s core group went into a huddle at the Prime Minister’s official residence this evening, shortly after CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury conveyed their unequivocal stand on the nuclear deal and left it to the Congress leadership to decide on its next course of action.

Stepping in to stave off the crisis to the government, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi spoke to all UPA allies, who are learnt to have assured her of their full support to the government on this deal.

After the meeting, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has been acting as a trouble-shooter in this crisis, called on railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, whose party is a key ally in the UPA government, to brief him about the day’s developments.

Mukherjee will also talk to other UPA partners to decide on how they should respond to the Left’s latest ultimatum.

Mukherjee, who has a good rapport with the Marxists and held several meetings with CPM leader Sitaram Yechury over the past two days, admitted “there are genuine differences between our approach on these issues” but added that they would talk it out.

The minister, it is learnt, is looking at various options on how to accommodate the Left concerns with commitments made to the US.

Mukherjee, who was also present at Prime Minister’s dinner meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya last night, is learnt to have explained that the deal can only be operationalised after the US Congress ratifies it.

But before it does so, New Delhi has to negotiate an India-specific arrangement with the IAEA and seek an amendment to the NSG guidelines.

“The deal can be deemed to be operationalised after all these three stages have been gone through,” Mukherjee said, clearly allaying Left’s fears that “operationalisation” is round the corner.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, has, however, said the next steps to operationalise the agreement, such as discussions with the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group should not be taken up, which has left the government with limited options.

While the hunt for the elusive compromise formula is still continuing, UPA leaders admit this is the most serious crisis faced by this government so far, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has staked his entire political goodwill on this agreement.

He has already told the Left that the deal cannot be negotiated afresh and that the Marxists can withdraw support to the government if they do not endorse this agreement.



UPA meeting today

New Delhi, August 18
The ruling UPA will meet tomorrow to resolve the crisis sparked off by the ultimatum issued by the Left to the government over the nuclear deal.

All the UPA constituents, including the NCP, the RJD and the DMK, are likely to attend the meeting at 3 pm on Sunday, sources said. — UNI


Bite, don’t bark: BJP

New Delhi, August 18
The BJP on Saturday asked the Left to withdraw support to the Manmohan Singh government over the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying it was time for Communists to “bite” and not “bark” on the accord.

“In their verbal duel with the Prime Minister, the Communists have spoken of serious consequences against operationalising the deal. It’s high time they took it to its logical conclusion and withdraw support,” senior BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra said.

His comments came after the CPI (M) politburo, in a party resolution, described the deal as “unacceptable” and demanded the government should not proceed further on it by starting negotiations with the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA for safeguards.

Former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had unsuccessfully sought support from CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat to BJP’s call for voting on the nuclear pact.

The RSS too has dared the Left to pull out support to the UPA over the 123 accord. — PTI



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |