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Home > News > PTI

CPI softens stand on nuclear deal

August 28, 2007 15:30 IST
Last Updated: August 28, 2007 21:55 IST


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The Communist Party of India on Tuesday said it had no intention of destabilising the government and force an immediate election on the contentious Indo-US nuclear deal issue.

The party, however, wanted its concerns on the deal to be addressed by the ruling coalition by a mechanism, like a committee at the political level, to clarify all doubts on 123 agreement and allied matters like the Hyde Act.

"We have no intention either to destabilise the government or the country or force an immediate election... This has not been our intention. We have taken the democratic path of telling the government about our concerns and criticisms and asked it not to operationalise the agreement before our objections are cleared," CPI general secretary A B Bardhan said, briefing on the day-long deliberations of the party's National Executive on the issue.

The crowded press conference saw a mellowed Bardhan in contrast to his aggressive posture in the last few days when he told the government that it would be committing 'sati' if it operationalised the 123 agreement. He had also said Left's 'honeymoon' with the UPA was over and what remained was 'signing of the divorce papers.'

Meanwhile, party sources said there was no change in its stand on the issue but its softening of rhetoric was to counter a campaign that the Left parties were out to destabilise the government and force an election on the country.
 
Bardhan's comments came a day after Congress discussed with the Left parties the constitution of a mechanism at the political level to allay their concerns on the deal.

Bardhan was harsh on the government and accused it of 'thrusting' the agreement on the Left parties 'without a word of consultation.'

"We would have welcomed if we had been consulted before (government) signing the agreement. Then the question would not have arisen. We are a supporting party and with our help, it has got a majority," he said, adding that the Left parties were only briefed by officials about how the negotiations were carried out.

The communist veteran said that so far the government has not intimated the Left parties its response to the idea of setting up of the mechanism and what should be its composition.

"We will wait for the UPA government what sort of mechanism they would like to set up. The ball is in their court," he said.

However, he said the mechanism should essentially deal with the Left concerns like the impact of the Hyde Act on the 123 agreement, the impact of the US law and the agreement on India's foreign policy, its strategic nuclear programme or whether India will become part of the US strategic alliance.

Bardhan said the mechanism should also address the concerns regarding the nature of safeguards and whether the nuclear agreement will contribute to India's energy security.

Maintaining that the total power generation capacity of the country will increase only from three to seven per cent by 2020 through nuclear energy, he asked 'at what cost' was the government going ahead with the deal.

"We want clarifications from the government on all these issues and the mechanism should address this," he said, adding that while the proposed committee will be political in nature, it could elicit the views of the scientists, strategic and legal experts on the matter.

Bardhan said the 'U-turn' of Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani on the nuclear deal issue was not at all surprising.

"We always knew that left to themselves, the National Democratic Alliance will have prepared such a deal, may be worse one."

He said the agreement called 'Next Steps in Strategic Partnership' was signed between then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and US President George Bush [Images].

Earlier, top Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony and Ahmed Patel held separate meetings with Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas and Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Abani Roy on the nuclear deal.

"Besides the nuclear issue, we are opposed to the government on its performance in the domestic front too," Roy said after the meeting.

The three Congress leaders had held discussions with top leaders of CPI-M and CPI on Monday in an effort to resolve the crisis triggered by Left parties' demand that the government should not operationalise the deal.



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