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Thanks to allies, PM may weather Left opposition to N-deal
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | July 25, 2007 19:22 IST
Today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] achieved a difficult task when all his senior colleagues put their weight behind his dream of getting the Indo-US civil nuclear co-operation going. The finalised text of the 123 agreement will be revealed on the floor of Parliament on August 10.
The Cabinet Committee on Security and the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs have both approved the text of the 123 agreement which will eventually be signed by India and the US.
The Cabinet Committee on Security includes Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The other crucial panel, the CCPA, includes Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar [Images], Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, Patil, Chidambaram, Antony and Surface Transport Minister T R Baalu.
This in effect means that the UPA and its allies are supporting the 123 agreement; only the Left parties have not spelt their stance against the final agreement.
It also means that, legally speaking, from the Indian side Prime Minister Singh doesn't have to worry as much as US President George Bush [Images] who will have to take the 123 agreement to Congress for ratification.
Already, Left leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, and former NSA Brajesh Mishra have been briefed on the issue in the last two days. Importantly, the Left parties have chosen to remain quiet so far. Mishra, too, hasn't spoken against the deal after he got a personal briefing by the top authorities. He was also briefed by US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns a few weeks back.
However, the Congress party's core group has not been briefed so far by Singh. The core group, one of the most powerful informal groups, meets every weekend to keep harmony between the PMO and 10 Janpath, and includes Sonia Gandhi and Singh.
It is expected that NSA M K Narayanan will brief the Congress core group and he will face Arjun Singh at the briefing. Last year, in one such briefing on the nuclear deal, Arjun Singh had posed a few difficult questions to Narayanan.
According to Mukherjee, the prime minister is also expected to brief BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Jaswant Singh.
B S Raghavan , distinguished writer and retired bureaucrat said, "In India the prime minister has all the freedom to enter into an agreement. Approval by the CCPA, the CCS or even Parliament is not required. It's to this government's credit that they are bringing the 123 agreement to Parliament and trying to take the people together, and they must do it so."
The Constitutional provision was that the prime minister has the power to enter into any bilateral agreement, so "from the Indian side the deal is done."
Raghavan said, "Only a no-confidence motion or any such parliamentary provision against the 123 agreement can stop Singh from signing the deal."
It is expected that his party and its allies will continue to stand by the prime minister as they have done today and that in August 2007, Indian Parliament will pass a resolution in favour of PM Singh's decision to enter into the nuclear agreement with the US. In effect it will take India to a new era of nuclear technology and nuclear power generation and rejuvenated Indo-US relationship.