M A I N   N E W S

N-Deal Meeting
Govt fails to woo adamant Left
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee explains a point to CPM leader Sitaram Yechury after coming out of the UPA-Left meeting on the Indo-US nuclear deal in New Delhi on Monday.
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee explains a point to CPM leader Sitaram Yechury after coming out of the UPA-Left meeting on the Indo-US nuclear deal in New Delhi on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

New Delhi, March 17
The meeting of the UPA-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal today remained inconclusive as neither side appeared keen on precipitating matters.

The UPA bought time from the Left leaders who said they needed to study the outcome of the safeguards agreement negotiated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was tabled by the government at today’s meeting.

“The members of the committee felt that further discussions were needed. It was decided to hold the next meeting of the committee in April,” external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who also heads the joint panel, said after the hour-long meeting.This was the first meeting of the UPA-Left joint panel since the Communists gave the go ahead to the Centre for talks with the IAEA four months ago.

UPA sources said the government shared the salient features of the agreement with the Left leaders but were unable to give them a copy of the 25-page draft on account of confidentiality.The three-page summary distributed at today’s meeting also spelt out the next steps which need to be taken after the finalisation of the safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Speaking at length on the agreement, Pranab Mukherjee emphasised that India’s concerns on fuel supply, strategic reserves and corrective measures in case of disruption of fuel supplies, had been addressed in the document. It was explained that this deal was not confined to the US alone but would also facilitate nuclear commerce with other countries like France and Russia.

Science and technology minister Kapil Sibal also explained the positive features of the agreement and detailed the advantages which will accrue to India from this deal. Sources said the UPA speakers made a determined effort to hardsell the deal to the Communists but they remained unmoved by their explanations.

CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury maintained that they needed time to ponder over the document tabled by the government today since it is a technical and complicated matter. They promised to get back with their views and queries. Both the CPM and CPI, currently preparing for their respective national conclaves, said they were preoccupied with party matters till this month-end. While reiterating that there can be no compromise on the deal, the Left leaders later emphasised that the UPA could not move forward till they give their clearance.

It was evident that both sides were keen on buying time on this issue. The Left parties want to delay matters to make sure that they are able to “kill the deal” without having to pull down the government. The UPA does not want to alienate the Communists particularly at this juncture as it is in the midst of a budget session and would like the financial business to be completed without any hitch. The UPA does not want to push the Communists into the Third Front camp and would prefer to have them on board in case they need to do business with them again after the next elections.




Pranab our saviour, says Buddha
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, March 17
Buddhadeb Bhatacharjee has publicly acknowledged external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee as their “saviour” in a time of crisis. He has also admitted that the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre has been much cooperative and helpful to the Left Front government. He hopes the Centre would continue it’s helpful relations with the state government and these would not be affected in any case by the Left stance on the nuclear deal.

The Chief Minister was expressing these views at an official function at Beldanga, Murshidabad district, yesterday where Mukherjee was also present.

Buddha said whenever there was any problem either in the sanctioning of projects or allotment of funds or any other matters, they had approached Mukjherjee and he also promptly responded.

But, of late, since the Left parties relations with the UPA were gradually getting strained over the Indo-US nuclear deal, a different attitude was being shown toward them, he added.

Bhattacherjee was particularly disturbed that the Centre was still delaying the sanctioning of the chemical hub project at Nayachar after so much of controversies over Nandigram.

Initially, the government had a plan to set up the Indonesia industrialist Salim’s Rs 25,000 crore Chemical hub plant at Nandigram. But, following the resistance from the local people and some political parties, the Nandigram plant was abandoned and it had been shifted to the adjoining the Nayachar island.

Initially, there was a welcoming response from the Centre to the Nayachar project but the attitude changed post nuclear deal issue. It was alleged that despite the repeated reminders, there was no positive response from the PMO.



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