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Nuke Bytes
No polls, please: Allies
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 23
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s consensus-building exercise on the Indo-US nuclear deal hit a roadblock today as the worried UPA allies told her that they did not favour an early election that would be necessitated if the Centre moved ahead on the deal by defying the Left parties.

The Left parties have made it abundantly clear that they will withdraw support from the UPA government if it proceeds to seal the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav and LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan are learnt to have urged Sonia Gandhi in their separate meetings with her this evening that it would be prudent to back down on the nuclear deal at this juncture and instead focus on containing inflation.

Sonia Gandhi had called the alliance leaders for consultations in the run-up to the June 25 meeting of the UPA-Left joint panel on the nuke deal as it has fallen upon her to take a political call on whether the ruling combine should go ahead with the deal even if it results in an early election and a confrontation with the Left parties. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is insisting that India should go ahead with the deal even at the risk of an early election.

Sonia Gandhi has a tough task at hand as she has to find a balance between the views of the allies, the Left’s opposition and the PM’s insistence of moving ahead with the nuke deal.

After meeting with the UPA chairperson, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav told mediapersons, “This is not the time for early elections. This is the time to deal with issues like inflation,” although he did hasten to add that the nuclear deal with the US is in national interest.

Speaking in the same vein, LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan also maintained that the nuclear deal was in national interest but insisted that the government was in no danger and that the Left parties and the UPA would stick together.

Sharad Pawar, who met Prakash Karat after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, has expressed confidence that this matter will be sorted through talks. Pawar, who has been mediating between the Congress and the Left, has stated that the Left’s views must be taken into account and that a middle path should be found to end this ongoing stalemate. DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has warned that an early election will only help communal forces.



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