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Home > News > Report

Left-UPA N-deal panel meets today

September 11, 2007 09:27 IST

The 15-member Left-United Progressive Alliance panel on the Indo-US nuclear deal will have its first meeting on Tuesday as part of the exercise to address concerns raised by the four Left parties regarding the implications of the India-specific Hyde Act of the US on the country's independent foreign policy, sovereignty and its future weapons programmes.

The meeting is expected to start around 1100 hours.

The meeting comes amid the BJP-led Opposition's demand over the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the nuclear deal. The Opposition has been disrupting the proceedings in Parliament demanding a JPC in place of the Left-UPA committee.

The committee has six members each from the Congress and the Left, besides one member each from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is the convenor of the committee.

Besides Mukherjee, the Congress nominees are: Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Defence Minister A K Antony, Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz and Minister of State Prithviraj Chavan.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad (RJD), Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar [Images] (NCP) and Shipping Minister T R Baalu (DMK) are the other UPA members on the committee.

The Left team includes Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury (both CPI-M), A B Bardhan and D Raja (both CPI), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) and T J Chandrachoodan (RSP).

The composition of the Congress team clearly indicated that the party was prepared to argue the matter forcefully and minutely as ministers like Mukherjee, Chidambaram, Sibal and Chavan were well-tuned as not to concede ground easily.

Though the committee was constituted a week ago, its first meeting was delayed in view of the September 8 anti-nuclear deal rally of the Left at Visakhapatnam [Images] in Andhra Pradesh.

The committee was seen as more of a political mechanism between the ruling UPA and the Left Parties, whose outside support is crucial for the survival of the 39-month-old government, to avert an immediate crisis as both the sides continued to remain firm on their known positions.

Even after the announcement of the constitution of the UPA-Left mechanism, the Left parties have continued with their saber-rattling against the UPA government in general and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] in particular.

The continuing intransigence of the Left was also evident from the fact that the CPI-M had, a week ago, issued four pamphlets attacking the government and the prime minister for India's growing 'strategic embrace' with the US on various fronts.

They also released a four-page 'open letter' to the MPs on September 8 on the adverse effect of the Indo-US agreement on India's independent foreign policy.

Amid the running Left threat against the government in the event of it proceeding towards operationalising the 123 agreement on Indo-US nuclear deal, the strong position of the Congress in favour of the agreement was made public by none other than Sonia Gandhi [Images] herself when she said in a message in party's mouthpiece Sandesh that the deal was in the long-term interests of the nation.