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Government's move a shocking betrayal: Left

July 10, 2008 14:01 IST
Last Updated: July 10, 2008 14:50 IST

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The Left parties on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the government for approaching the International Atomic Energy Agency for the safeguards agreement in the nuclear deal before a trust vote in Parliament, terming the move as a "shocking betrayal of a moral commitment" made to the country.

"We know how to fight against the deal and we will make it politically impossible for the government to go ahead with the agreement," Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters in Delhi in the presence of his CPI counterpart A B Bardhan and other senior Left leaders.

Noting that it was a "blatant violation of the assurance" given by the government (that it will seek a confidence vote before going to IAEA), Karat said the move was "nothing but a shocking betrayal of moral commitment not only to the Left parties, but to the country and people. In less than 24 hours, when the country knows that the government is reduced to a minority, the text (of the IAEA agreement) has been submitted."

The Left leaders wondered how the government changed its position to approach the IAEA in less than 24 hours of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee announcing that the ruling coalition would seek a vote of confidence in the wake of Left parties withdrawing support.

"There is no reason to doubt the integrity of Mukherjee who said that he had consulted the prime minister before telling the nation that the government would seek a confidence vote," Karat said.

He said the Left parties want the prime minister to tell the nation "what transpired in the meeting he had with US President George W Bush [Images] (in Japan [Images]) which led to the going back on a public pledge (that they will seek a vote of confidence)."

Bardhan said the government's move had made the position of Mukherjee "untenable".

"Twice he had said something and twice the government did something else. Before anything could be done, the prime minister went on air saying that the government would move IAEA."

"Then again he made a solemn commitment that the government would not proceed to the Board of Governors of the IAEA till it proves its majority," he said.

Asked whether Mukherjee should quit, the top CPI leader said it was "up to his conscience".

Karat said the Left parties will study the draft of the safeguards agreement, which was made public by the government on Thursday morning, and soon come out with their analysis and a stand on the issue.

"We have been demanding that the text be made public. All talks of the text being 'classified' and 'privileged' are manufactured by the government but the IAEA has no such problems in making it available for public," he said.

He noted that the UPA government was keeping the text confidential and not the IAEA, which has been "confirmed by spokespersons of the IAEA in the last 24 hours."

Ridiculing Congress spokespersons who went on air noting that making the text public would lead to 'nuclear terrorism', Karat said, "Don't treat public in such a manner. We also have intelligence."

Maintaining that "all sorts of concoctions" were being put forth to justify the government's stand on the nuclear deal, Karat said three versions came out on the issue from three quarters -- Mukherjee, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar and Congress spokespersons.

Observing that the Congress spokespersons had said that making the text of the safeguards agreement public would invite "nuclear terrorism", he said, "Today the text is available on the site of the MEA."

"We have great respect for Kakodkar. He has gone on record saying negotiations on the draft were in progress (with the IAEA). But while he was saying this, the government asked the IAEA to submit it for consideration by the Board of Governors," he said.

"At least, put one version of lies and not different lies," Karat said.

While the government and the Congress were maintaining that the draft of the agreement were classified, "We got this text from various American Web sites. This is the plight of the country," the CPI-M leader said.

Maintaining that the fight against the deal would be fought on "every step", he said, "It is not just a matter of a vote in Parliament. We will make it politically impossible for the government go ahead with the deal."

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