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Suddenly, Left pours respect on PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 31
Notwithstanding the bitter standoff between the Congress-led UPA government and the Left parties on the Indo-US Nuclear deal, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has said they recognised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s strong convictions about the soundness and utility of the agreement but there would be no going back on the Left’s stance.

At the same time Karat stressed he appreciates Dr Manmohan Singh’s “unquestioned integrity” over the pact.

Affirming that the Left also believes that there should not be early elections, “there is no reason why the UPA government should not complete its term,” Karat contended in an interview to The Telegraph.

(Sometime after Karat’s remarks, the CPI said it held Manmohan Singh in “high esteem”.

(“There are differences (on the nuclear deal) and these continue to remain,” CPI national secretary D Raja said here.

(But “there was never any disrespect or disregard” towards the Prime Minister and “we always hold him in high respect and high esteem,” he said.)

The CPM leader admitted to a basic difference in approach between the Prime Minister and the Left on the nuclear agreement. “We recognise that he has strong convictions on the soundness and utility of the agreement. Our differing view on the agreement does not mean that we do not have respect for the Prime Minister. His integrity is unquestioned.”

Giving no indication that the CPM was softening its stand on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Karat observed that “as the Prime Minister was heading a coalition government without the backing of a parliamentary majority for the deal, his not going ahead despite his firm conviction that it was a good deal would not detract his stature.”

This situation of leaders not having their way, Karat said “is well understood in coalition politics around the world.”

To narrow the differences with the Left and reach a consensus, a 15-member UPA-Left committee was formed which has been discussing the implications of the nuclear deal on the country’s independent foreign policy and its indigenous nuclear energy programmes.

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi had underlined that the UPA would like to complete its term rather than jettison the government and go in for a snap general election, the Prime Minister had stated subequently that “it will not be the end of the world” if the nuclear deal does not go through.

The cracks between the UPA and the Left parties developed in the first instance after the Prime Minister gave an interview to the Kokata-based The Telegraph in August categorically saying that his government cannot renegotiate the Indo-US nuclear deal and if “they (the Left parties) want to withdraw support, so be it...” Dr Singh had failed to understand why the Left was objecting to the nuclear deal expcept that they “seem to have a problem with the United States.”

On the Left’s apprehension that the 123 Agreement will render India an American satellite, the Prime Minister wondered “how can we ever become anyone’s satellite? Yes we live in an increasingly interdependent world but the challenge before us is to forge new linkages, widen our strategic options and, at the same time, guard against the negative side of the process of globalisation.”

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