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Delhi Test
Cong all out to sell deal to public
Anita Katyal and Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 12
With the BJP and the Left parties launching a no-holds barred campaign against the nuclear deal in the run-up to the July 22 trust vote in Parliament, the UPA government and the Congress have decided to counter it by aggressively marketing the deal across the country as being beneficial for the people.

A simultaneous exercise was launched in this regard today. Congress president Sonia Gandhi convened a meeting of party general secretaries and told them to explain the merits of the deal to the people.

This comes a day after Congress-Nehru scion Rahul Gandhi had come out in full support of the deal at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting and said instead of being defensive on the issue, the party should tout the agreement as among the main achievements of the UPA government.

At the same time, the government fielded a battery of senior officials - national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Anil Kakodkar and R.B. Grover, chief negotiator for India on the safeguards agreement - at a special press conference to project the deal as the the UPA regime’s most significant achievement on the foreign policy front.

The government also launched an ad campaign to seek wide national support for the deal. Full-page advertisements, carrying photographs of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were placed in leading dailies by the petroleum ministry quoting Kakodkar that “history will not forgive us if the deal is not clinched.” More such advertisements are being planned.

At their joint high-powered press briefing, Narayanan and Menon firmly asserted that the safeguards agreement would in no way impinge on the country’s strategic programme or compromise with its security. The NSA did not hesitate in joining issue with the Left parties on different aspects of the nuclear deal.

Congress spokesperson M. Veerappa Moily said the party president had asked the leaders to fan out different parts of the country to tell the people that the nuclear agreement is good for the country.

In this regard, the party plans to publish pamphlets explaining how the Congress tried hard to convince the Left parties on the merits of the nuke deal and the events which eventually led to their withdrawing support to the UPA government. The party also appointed 11 new spokespersons who have been mandated to travel across the country to counter every point on which the UPA government is being attacked on the nuclear agreement.

Going into overdrive, the party’s publicity committee meeting was also held today to decide the strategy on how the deal should be projected before the people.

With the survival of the government depending on the trust vote in the Lok Sabha following the Left withdrawal of support, the party is still wondering why some political parties are opposed to the deal. There are some lobbies in India and also America who do not want the deal to go through, moily said. He referred to some international magazines and said they too were supporting the deal.

The Congress today affected a major reshuffle in its organisational structure appointing 11 new spokespersons.



Face polls, Karat dares Cong

New Delhi: The CPM has dared the Congress to face elections on the nuclear deal plank The party said the Left parties would work to ensure that the deal does not get operationalised during the “life of Manmohan Singh government”. “It is not we but the government which is isolated on this issue. The discussion in Parliament in November-December 2007, in both the Houses, showed that it is in minority on this issue,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said in an interview to party mouthpiece People's Democracy. — PTI



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