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Govt not to proceed on deal if Left pulls the rug: Mukherjee
January 13, 2008 16:08 IST
Amid hopes of conclusion of talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency next week, the government has said that it will not like to proceed with the India-United States nuclear deal if the Left, which opposes it, withdraws support.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected suggestions that the United Progressive Alliance government's capacity to operationalise the deal has weakened after the Congress' debacle in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.
He made it clear that the government will not have the capacity to proceed with the deal if it plunges into a minority.
"We would not like to proceed with the deal if the Left parties withdraw support from the government," he told Karan Thapar's India Tonight programme on CNBC.
He, however, emphasised that if India pulls out of the deal, it will have some adverse impact on the country's standing at the international level.
"Before we went to the IAEA, their (Left) position was that don't proceed further (on the deal). From that position we have improved something," he said.
Asked whether the relenting by the Left Front meant that the government will be able to push the Left, he replied, "It is not a question of pushing. It is a question of accepting the ground reality as and when it unfolds. Let us wait and see."
India hopes to conclude the negotiations on the safeguards agreement with the IAEA during the talks next week, after which the draft will be discussed by the UPA-Left committee.
"Let us have the agreed text (of safeguards agreement) first. Let us discuss with the Left leaders," Mukherjee said.
He sought to downplay aggressive statements issued by Left leaders like Prakash Karat and Debabrata Biswas every now and then, rejecting the possibility of accepting the deal.
"We are aware of the various positions stated by the Left parties from time to time and despite that we are talking with each other," Mukherjee said.
The External Affairs Minister also contested Left suggestion that the sense of the House during the debate was against the government proceeding with the controversial deal, saying the opinion of the Parliament was not sought at all.
Mukherjee admitted that majority of the members spoke against the deal, but maintained that "it was not the opinion of the Parliament which was sought in the debate" and the government did not seek the sense of the House.
The veteran Congress leader rejected suggestions that the UPA government's capacity to operationalise the deal has weakened after the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat election outcome, saying the defeat does not matter in this case as it was not a referendum on the deal.
On the talks with the IAEA, Mukherjee said India wants to see its concerns on assured fuel supply, right to build a strategic reserve and freedom to pursue an independent strategic programme, addressed.