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IAEA Talks
Left rejects Sonia’s proposal
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Poll rolls to be revised

Adding fuel to the speculation on the survival of the Manmohan Singh government, the Election Commission on Monday directed the Chief Electoral Officers of states to get the electoral rolls as on January 1, 2008, published by mid-January. The poll panel’s direction was communicated in a review meeting held here with CEOs of 14 states, UTs from South and Western India. The EC will be holding another meeting with rest of CEOs from North and East states on Tuesday.

New Delhi, October 8
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi first backtracked on her public attack against the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal. She then followed it up with a meeting tonight with CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury suggesting that they drop their objections to UPA government’s discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to negotiate India-specific safeguards. But to little avail.

The Left leaders, it is learnt, rejected Gandhi’s plea and stuck to their stated position that the UPA government refrain from operationalising the deal, which includes negotiating with the IAEA.

Faced with the Left’s obdurate stand, the Congress core committee, comprising Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior union ministers, was confabulating till late tonight to decide on their next move.

Before Gandhi stepped in to mediate between the UPA and the Left, Karat had a meeting with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee who suggested a compromise formula according to which the UPA would go ahead with its negotiations with the IAEA but will append its signature on the final agreement only after the Left parties scrutinised the text. Karat, it is learnt, was not agreeable to this suggestion. The UPA government is particularly keen on resolving this issue at the earliest in view of IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei’s arrival in New Delhi tomorrow.

Although there appeared to be no apparent thaw in the ongoing cold war between the UPA and the Left parties, earlier during the day it appeared the two sides could be moving towards a compromise. This optimism emanated from former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu’s conciliatory statement in Kolkata. The Left patriarch said he had told party leaders Karat and Yechury that they listen to what Pranab Mukerhjee has to say on the deal and to see if it is possible to work out a compromise and work together for some more time. Mukherjee met Basu yesterday.

While all indications are that the Left and the UPA may soon be parting ways, senior leaders on both sides continued to hold out the hope that they would still find a middle path to put off an early general election. Gandhi’s meeting with President Prathibha Patil today officially described as a courtesy call, only added to the speculation that the Left parties could withdraw support to the UPA government sooner than later.

Given today’s fast-paced political developments, tomorrow’s meeting of the UPA-Left nuclear panel meeting may well prove crucial as it may decide if this government is going to survive for long.

Meanwhile, the Congress today made a valiant attempt to downplay Gandhi’s outburst against the opponents of the nuclear deal, saying these comments were made in the context of Haryana where Gandhi was addressing a public meeting.

El Baradei in Mumbai

Mumbai (PTI): The IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei, arrived here on Monday night on a three-day visit to India in the midst of the UPA government's failure to get the nod of Left parties to go ahead with negotiations with the UN atomic watchdog to help implement the Indo-US nuclear deal. El Baradei will have talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders in Delhi even as the government's standoff with the Left on the nuclear deal escalated further.

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