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UPA caught napping over Left's oppn to N-deal: BJD leader
Aziz Haniffa in Washington | September 18, 2007 09:34 IST
The Congress-led government was caught napping over the Left Front's opposition to the India-United States nuclear agreement, feels B J Panda, a member of the Rajya Sabha. Panda is part of the Indian delegation participating in the US-India Strategic Dialogue, co-sponsored by the Aspen Strategy Group and Confederation of Indian Industries.
Panda, a member of the Biju Janata Dal -- which is one of the allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance -- predicted that the country will have to go to polls "within six months."
While addressing members of the US-India Business Council, Panda said, "What I find interesting is that six months ago, when I was here in this very room, the concern was not that the Left Front would derail the deal, but that the scientists will."
"If you take a look at today's scenario, the scientific community in India are probably one of the strongest supporters of the deal," he added.
Panda said, "The situation has changed and perhaps it was not anticipated, least of all by the government that their Left allies would be so dead set against the deal to the extent that they are willing to take the country to an election. But that's where we are today and we are, in fact, face to face with that situation."
"In a parliamentary system, having elections earlier than scheduled is not uncommon�it happens quite a lot when the government thinks it has a mandate to do something which one of its allies doesn't agree with," declared Panda.
The RS member admitted that since he had arrived in Washington, he was constantly being asked about what will happen to the deal in case of a change of government. "I wouldn't be too worried about it. If you read between the lines, if you look at the opposition to the deal that comes from the opposition, then I wouldn't be too worried, because the opposition is there to take political advantage of any confusion in the ruling coalition," said Panda.
Speaking about whether the Manmohan Singh [Images] government will be able to push through the deal, he said, "I remain cautiously optimistic. I would give a qualified yes, but it requires some astute maneuvering by the government."