M A I N   N E W S

Nuclear deal will happen: Cong
Left’s mandate is to shoot down national pride: Moily
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
Emboldened by this year’s please-all budget, a confident Congress is all set to “hardsell” the Indo-US nuclear agreement, going as far as to describe it as a matter of “national pride.” There is also a perceptible shift in the Congress’ s approach to the Left parties. It is no longer treating the Marxists with kid gloves and was unfazed by its latest offensive on the nuke deal. Dropping its earlier defensive stance, the Congress today even went as far as to warn the Left parties that they will have a lot of explaining to do to the people if they pulled down the UPA government on an issue of “national pride.” Indicating that the government will move ahead with the deal, Veerappa Moily, AICC media department chairman, today declared, “The deal will have to happen in the interest of the nation.”

As for the Left’s renewed threat to pull down the government, Moily maintained, “Is it their mandate to shoot down national pride. By pulling down the government do they want to frustrate what has been achieved with diplomacy and hard work?” Continuing in the same vein, Moily wondered if the Left wanted the BJP to come back to to power by pulling down this government. “What is the Left agenda? What will they do if the NDA comes back to power and agrees to settle for a deal which will offer 50 per cent less than what our government has extracted?” Moily said.

Reiterating that the deal will go a long way in solving the country’s power problems, he wondered if the Left parties wanted to obstruct development.

“Look at the power situation. Without this deal, can we get fuel? Does the Left want the industrial and rural sectors to starve for want of power?” Moily wondered. Moily, however,sought to play down the CPM’s demand for an immediate meeting of the UPA-Left committee and its renewed threat to pull down the government.

“I don’t think it is an ultimatum. We call it concern,” Moily remarked,adding that the Left has never been unreasonable in the UPA-Left committee meetings and did not obstruct the discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Congress leader was also firm that trade agreements do not require ratification by Parliament as is being suggested by the Left parties on the plea that the Indo-US nuclear deal does not enjoy majority support among the political parties. Keeping up his aggressive tone, Moily said India’s reputation will take a hard knock in the international community if it does not honour this deal.


Sort it out now, says Left
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
The Left parties are getting restive over the UPA government’s stand on the Indo-US nuclear deal and are apprehensive that buoyed by the poll-friendly union budget the government may go full steam ahead with the deal, irrespective of consequences.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has written a letter to external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and demanded an immediate meeting of the UPA-Left panel on the nuclear deal. Karat’s letter has come in wake of reports that after the last week’s fifth round of India-IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) talks at Vienna, New Delhi was just a meeting away for finalising the draft of an India-specific safeguards agreement with the international nuclear watchdog.

As things stand between India and the IAEA, the two sides are likely to finalise everything only towards the month-end. Karat, on the other hand, is understood to have demanded the UPA-Left panel meeting by mid-March.

CPI leader D. Raja, a member of the committee, met Karat today for a brainstorming on the nuclear deal.

The Left parties have taken note of the latest deadline the Americans have set for India in the context of the nuclear deal and are toying with the idea of setting their own deadline for the UPA government to keep their political catchment areas intact.

The USA wants India to conclude the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) hurdles by May so that the Bush administration can introduce the nuclear deal to the Congress by July.

India is not a member of the 45-nation NSG and the USA will have to bat for India with each NSG country as NSG decides everything only by consensus. This will require complex negotiations and intricate diplomacy on part of both New Delhi and Washington and this will be a time-consuming process.

Karat’s demand for immediate convening of the UPA-Left panel may also be indicative of their intention to ensure prompt death and burial of the nuclear deal — arguably the most important foreign policy achievement of the UPA government. The two sides may go far beyond mere sabre-rattling and may decide to part ways instead of keeping up the unity façade.

The clearest indication of the Left parties’ imminent divorce with the government came as recently as yesterday from veteran CPM leader Jyoti Basu who said in Kolkata: “They (the government) are dependent on us, we are dependent on them, to keep the BJP away. I do not know how long this arrangement would continue.”

The Prime Minister made this comment for enlisting Vajpayee’s support on the nuclear deal.

One more indication of the Left parties’ intention of crossing the Rubicon vis-a-vis the nuclear deal has come from the scathing remarks made in the editorial of the latest issue of “People’s Democracy”, the CPM party organ.

The relevant paragraph in “People’s Democracy” is quoted below. “While talking of a range of other issues - from climate change to telecommunications, to the armed forces, to the foreign policy, President (Pratibha Patil) stated that, ‘It is our hope that civil nuclear cooperation with the USA and other friendly countries will become possible.’ Now, on this issue, the Left has been consistent and unequivocal in its opposition. As it stands today, the UPA-Left have agreed that the government would proceed to discuss the safeguards issues with the IAEA and report back to the committee that is examining the implications of this deal on India, before proceeding further. The Left maintains that the government should not proceed with the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.”



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