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N-deal: Govt may set up panel of experts
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

The allies to support the Congress in its efforts to resolve the crisis with the Left.

Pranab Mukherjee likely to make a statement in Parliament on Monday.

The government should not bend too much for the sake of its survival, feel the allies.

New Delhi, August 19
Amid efforts by the government to find a solution to the stand-off with the Left parties on the Indo-US nuclear deal, UPA allies today rallied behind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, conveying their desire to fully support the Congress on the issue.

The allies, which had a dinner meeting at Prime Minister’s residence with the Congress core group, expressed full faith in his leadership and that of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Sources said external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has emerged as the main trouble shooter of the government on the nuclear deal, briefed the UPA allies about the government’s position and the steps being taken to satisfy the concerns of the Left parties.

With CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, who met Mukherjee in the afternoon, indicating that the Left leaders were willing to consider a mechanism regarding their concerns on the Hyde Act, the government is likely to set up a committee of experts to take a hard look at its provisions.

Mukherjee is likely to make a statement in Parliament tomorrow about the constitution of the committee.

Before UPA allies met, the Congress core group discussed the ultimatum of the Left on the deal and steps to retrieve the situation.

The sources said the UPA allies were sensitive to the government’s concern that any long postponement of the talks concerning the nuclear agreement would be against diplomatic norms. They said the Left leaders would be told that while their concerns on the Hyde Act would be addressed, the negotiations could not be stopped altogether.

Mukherjee later read out a statement on behalf of UPA leaders which said that under the leadership of the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson, the alliance has been consistently working for the welfare of the common man and for promoting India’s supreme national interest in the international arena.

“We are confident that they will be able to address all legitimate concerns, including those voiced by our Left colleagues, on the issue of national interest,” the statement said.

With the Left maintaining that sections of the nuclear deal were against the country’s sovereignty, the statement laid emphasis the UPA leadership’s commitment to national interests.

The sources said Mukherjee told the meeting the 123 agreement negotiated by India was better in several respects from the nuclear agreement of China with the USA.

The mood was that the government should not bend too much for the sake of its survival. Keen to prevent any mid-term poll at this juncture and not wanting the BJP to succeed in its efforts to fish in the troubled waters, the UPA allies seemed optimistic of a positive view from the Left on the steps taken to resolve the tangle.

Railway minister Lalu Prasad, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, chemicals and fertiliser minister Ramvilas Paswan, home minister Shivraj Patil, defence minister A.K. Antony and political secretary to the Congress president Ahmed Patel were among those present at the UPA meeting.

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