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N-deal: Crucial meeting of Left parties begins

July 08, 2008 12:07 IST
Last Updated: July 08, 2008 12:28 IST

Amid clear signals that they would withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance 'soon', top Left party leaders met in New Delhi on Tuesday to formulate an 'appropriate' response to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] announcement that the government would approach the International Atomic Energy Agency for the nuclear deal.

Furious at govt's 'lie', Left may withdraw support

The Left Coordination Committee meeting, which began at the Communist Party of India-Marxist headquarters in New Delhi, is being attended by CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, his CPI counterpart A B Bardhan and other senior leaders like D Raja (CPI), Revolutionary Socialist Party leaders T J Chandrachoodan and Abani Roy and Forward Bloc's Debabrata Biswas and G Devarajan.

The meeting, which was earlier fixed at 4 pm, was rescheduled to 11:30 am after Dr Singh's announcement on Monday that the government would 'soon' approach the IAEA for a safeguards agreement for the nuclear deal with the US.

What the IAEA agreement gives India

Ahead of the meeting, Karat told media persons on Tuesday morning that the meeting would be a 'crucial' one as there was 'nothing more' on Left's course of action with regard to the prime minister's announcement on the nuclear deal.

Karat said the prime minister had made the announcement on the deal in a foreign land which he could have told the Left parties here.

Speculation was rife that the Left would pull the plug on Tuesday itself, with the rescheduling of their meeting after which they could seek an audience with President Pratibha Patil [Images], who is returning to the capital from Tirupati later this evening.

'It is sad the N-deal is smeared in murky politics'

The Left parties had earlier stated that they would withdraw support to the Congress-led Government the moment it decides to go to the IAEA. Karat has said the Left parties will meet and give an 'appropriate' response to the PM's statement.

Left leaders were livid over the prime minister's announcement, which came barely an hour after the government sought another round of meeting of the UPA-Left Committee on the nuclear deal on July 10, saying they were 'insulted'.

"Only thing I am saying now is that we will take a crucial decision. Dr Singh has hoodwinked the Left parties, the UPA allies and the people. We ask him to behave in a manner befitting his post," Chandrachoodan told PTI.

Will the final joke be on Mulayam Singh Yadav?

Noting that the Left had maintained civility by publicly saying that they will wait till Dr Singh returns, the RSP leader said, "Now the UPA leadership should not expect the Left to show the courtesy by waiting till then."

CPI national secretary D Raja said the suggestion of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for a UPA-Left meeting and the prime minister's statements were 'contradictory'.

"The prime minister has put Mukherjee and the UPA-Left panel in a ridiculous position. The (UPA-Left) meeting has become meaningless now. Mukherjee should explain why he invited the Left parties for the meeting to finalise the Committee's findings if the government has already decided to move the IAEA. The prime minister should have some respect for the committee," Raja said.

 'They can't hoodwink the Left at every stage'

Responding to the Left parties' letter asking the government whether it was moving the IAEA to formalise a safeguards agreement on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the government had on Monday proposed another round of meeting of the UPA-Left Committee on the issue on July 10.

However, barely an hour after the letter was delivered to the four parties, the prime minister's statement came amid reports that the Board of IAEA will meet on July 28 to approve the safeguards agreement.

The prime minister sounded conciliatory about the Left parties, saying that they were 'patriots' and would like to find a way out which would address their concerns and also see the deal through.

"They (Left parties) are valuable colleagues," he told media persons on way to Japan [Images] on Monday for the G-8 summit.

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