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Cong ready for poll: Sonia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
Even as the threat from the Left looms large on the government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today held out hope that UPA’s talks with Left on the Indo-US nuclear agreement would have a positive outcome and sought to play down the speculation of an early Lok Sabha election.

Replying to queries from mediapersons at the ‘Iftar’ hosted by him at his residence, the Prime Minister said the UPA and Left were engaged in a dialogue on the nuclear deal and he was hoping for the best. “As long as talks are on, there is always hope...,” he said. The Prime Minister, however, refused to elaborate further on the plea that the talks were still underway.

Dr Singh, who recently underwent a surgery, looked out of sorts as he fended queries from the persistent mediapersons on the UPA government’s future. When asked if mid-term polls were inevitable, the Prime Minister replied cryptically: “Nothing is inevitable.” As for the possibility of Left parties withdrawing support to the government, the Prime Minister remarked equally cryptically, “I am not an astrologer.”

While the Prime Minster gave evasive replies to the questions related to the government’s continuation and mid-term polls, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was more direct in her answers. “Not at all,” she said, when asked if she was concerned if mid-term polls were round the corner. “But if there are elections, you have face them,” the Congress president added on a philosophical note.

On the question of price rise specially the steep hike in the price of onions, the Prime Minister said it was a temporary phenomenon. He said in a large country something or the other happens and the Centre does not control the production of crops.

Asked about the proposed visit of IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei to India, Dr Singh said it was a goodwill visit and IAEA was an important international agency. “We are looking forward to welcoming him,” he said.

Besides the Prime Minister and Congress president, the other leader in demand was CPM Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury, who faced a volley of questions on the nuclear deal and Left’s ultimatums to the government.

Keeping his hopes on the outcome of the UPA-Left meetings scheduled for October 9 and October 14, Yechury said the meetings will evaluate the Hyde Act and foreign policy implications of the deal. The CPM leader did not rule out further talks with the government.

Senior government officials who have been associated with the negotiations concerning nuclear deal, said the effort was to save both the agreement and the UPA government. They said government would stick to a time frame which is flexible enough to get the deal through.

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