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Furious at govt's 'lie', Left may withdraw support on Tuesday
R Prema in New Delhi | July 07, 2008 23:11 IST
The Left Front may withdraw support from the United Progressive Alliance after their meeting on Tuesday, according to sources.
The Left parties, in their meeting on Friday, had decided to pull out as soon as India goes to the International Atomic Energy Agency to sign the safegaurds agreement with its board of directors.
CPI leader D Raja said that the Left parties would meet in New Delhi on 11.30 am on Tuesday to decide on the withdrawal of support. They have also sought time from the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the same day, so that they can give the letter of withdrawal of support to President Pratibha Patil [Images].
Forward Block General Secretary Debabrata Biswas had said that the Left parties would submit their letter to President Patil, withdrawing support to the UPA government, by July 10. But Left Front leaders claimed that they might not wait till the PM returns from the G8 summit in Japan [Images], as the government had 'lied' to them.
The Left had agreed not to pull the plug while the PM is abroad, after the government promised them that it would not finalise the date with the IAEA for the safeguards agreement. However, Left leaders pointed out that the date for the meeting had already been fixed with India's consent, and the government had 'lied' to them.
The IAEA is scheduled to hold its board meeting on July 28 to decide on the India-specific nuclear safeguards agreement, which would include regular inspection of India's civilian nuclear facilities by the agency's inspectors, as part of the process to operationalise the nuclear deal with the United States.
The Left has claimed that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's 'bid to hoodwink' them by keeping the date of the IAEA meeting under wraps misfired because the information was leaked by some diplomats in Vienna.
In a short reply to the Left Front, Mukherjee requested another meeting of the UPA-Left panel on the nuclear deal on July 10, to ensure the Left parties do not embarrass the Prime Minister by withdrawing support just before his meeting with US President George Bush [Images].
"We have received the letter. We will meet tomorrow to decide on the future course of action," Communist Party of India-Marxist Prakash Karat told reporters in New Delhi.
Revolutionary Socialist Party General Secretary T J Chandrachoodan said, "The letter is non-committal."
According to an Associated Press report from Vienna, the diplomats demanded anonymity in divulging the date of the IAEA board's meeting because their information was confidential and had not yet been formally announced by India.
According to Bharatiya Janata Party sources, as soon as the Left parties give their withdrawal letter, party leaders would rush to President Pratibha Patil to demand that the Manmohan Singh [Images] government seek a vote of confidence in the Parliament. Senior BJP leaders L K Advani and Jaswant Singh have already asked the government to seek a confidence vote.
The Samajwadi Party has publicly declared its support to the government and the nuclear deal. But the SP or other regional parties, which are being wooed by the Congress, have not given their letter of support to the President.
The Congress is wondering whether to convene the Parliament session from August 11 to preempt an early session called by the President. Even if the UPA government loses the vote of confidence, the elections will be held only in February, and it will give the Congress enough time to prepare.
Though the Congress has reportedly mustered the requisite numbers�from the SP and other regional parties-- to make up for the Left's 59 MPs, party chief Sonia Gandhi [Images] does not want to take any chances. She had promised the UPA allies that parliamentary elections would not be held before 2009.
Sources say that she is skeptical about the SP's support, as its leaders make new demands every day. On Monday, SP general secretary Amar Singh demanded an electoral alliance with the Congress in not only Uttar Pradesh but also in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, for the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress had bargained for a deal only in Uttar Pradesh and had not anticipated the SP's demands about other states.
Once the IAEA safeguards agreement is finalised on July 28, India would approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group for its approval to the Indo-US nuclear deal. India wants to finish the formalities with the NSG before the Parliament's monsoon session starts on August 11.
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