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UPA-Left meet on Wednesday; Left rejects allies' formula

Last updated on: June 24, 2008 17:37 IST

The Left parties on Tuesday asked the government to come clean at Wednesday's crucial meeting of the United Progressive Alliance-Left panel on the Indo-US nuclear deal on the contentious issues pertaining to the 123 Agreement and the Hyde Act and rejected the allies' reported formula for an rapprochement.

The poll-wary UPA allies are understood to have suggested a government-Left patch up by which the government will not go ahead on the nuclear deal after completing the pending business on the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This view emerged when UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi took the initiative after the Left leaders called on Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo M Karunanidhi in Chennai and urged him to mediate to end the standoff between the government and the Left parties on the nuclear pact.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan met Sonia on Monday and gave her their political assessment.

Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat also met Pawar in this connection.

The Left parties' comments came on the eve of the crucial meeting of the UPA-Left panel on Wednesday. Earlier, two scheduled meetings have been postponed for different reasons.

Wednesday's meeting assumes significance in view of the government's keenness to execute the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Left parties' vehement resistance and hectic parleys within the Congress and the government, the partners in the government and the partners and the Left leaders.

Reacting to the allies nudging the Congress to agree for putting the nuclear deal on 'pause' after the finalisation of the safeguards agreement with IAEA, which required the Left consent to let the government complete the pending business at Vienna, CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said the patch up formula is just unacceptable.

"The government and particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take note of what the allies are saying and what the supporting the Left parties are saying on the issue," said Bardhan, insisting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should not proceed with his own opinion only.

On the patch up formula Bardhan wanted to know who will take the guarantee on behalf of the government.

CPI national secretary Shamim Faizi said, "In tomorrow's meeting also, we expect the governemnt to come clean on the contentious issues -- whether the text is 123 Agreement specific or how we deal with conditionalities through the Hyde Act. Till such matter is clear, the government should not go ahead."

He said the government has made a solemn promise to the Left parties that nothing will be done till the UPA-Left panel concludes its deliberations. "The undue haste shown by the PM is uncalled for and unfortunate," Faizi added.

The CPI leaders emphasised that after "we complete our pending business with the board of governors of the international body, India loses all opportunities to mend the things. The US then can take initiative on its own on the next step at the Nuclear Suppliers Group."

CPI-M senior leader Rup Chand Pal also said, "There is no change in our stand."

On the patch up formula, the Marxist leader said, "We can consider this only if the government says it officially."

On the patch up formula, Forward Bloc general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Debvrath Biswas said, "This is not is just not possible."

The Congress faces a very peculiar position as not only the allies, but its large sections also want the high command to end the standoff with the Left parties.

They support the party's pro-deal position in the national interest, but they do not want the pact at the cost of their government's collapse and early election that, they believe, under the prevailing circumstances of 13-year-high inflation would be electorally suicidal for the ruling alliance.