New Delhi, November 16
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said after the sixth meeting of the UPA-Left committee that the members felt that impact of the provisions of the Hyde Act and 123 Agreement on the IAEA safeguards agreement should also be examined.
“This will require talks with the IAEA Secretariat for working out the text of the India-specific safeguards agreement. The government will proceed with the talks and the outcome will be presented to the committee for its consideration before it finalises its findings,” he said, adding the findings of the committee will be taken into account before the operationalisation of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.
The outcome of the meeting, which lasted for nearly 90 minutes, was on the expected lines as the some Left parties had indicated earlier that they would allow the government to proceed with the IAEA talks provided it came back to the committee without signing or initialling any document.
Leaders from four Left parties, including CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Block, spoke at today’s meeting to reiterate their opposition to the operationalisation of the deal.
RSP leader T.J Chandrachudan said later that there were some differences in the Left on giving the government leeway for talks at the IAEA with his party and the Forward Bloc opposing the move at the meeting of Left parties held an hour before today’s UPA-Left meeting. However, these parties decided to go along with the views of CPI(M) and CPI in the committee meeting.
The sources said the broad agreement to give the government space to proceed with talks at the IAEA was worked out at Saturday’s meeting of CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI general secretary A.B Bardhan with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Mukherjee. The next meeting of the committee would be held after text of the India-specific safeguards agreement is worked out with the IAEA which may take over a month.
Asked about their softening stand on the nuclear deal, CPI leader D Raja said the government had told them that the talks at IAEA would not amount to operationalisation of the deal.
Left sources said the next meeting of the committee would be held after the results of Gujarat Assembly poll. While the Congress would like to wait for the Gujarat poll result before taking a call on the nuclear deal vis-a-vis government’s longevity, the Left is also not in a mood for an early Lok Sabha election, particularly after the recent happenings in Nandigram.
Though the Left has not relented on its position to not allow the deal to be operationalised, the government has said it was making efforts to resolve differences. The Left sees the move for talks at the IAEA as an honourable exit for the government, but there’s a feeling that the its softening of stand is related to a desire not to have an early general election.