Karat disagrees with Rice: PM was keen on N-deal | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Karat disagrees with Rice: PM was keen on N-deal

delhi Updated: Oct 30, 2011 00:53 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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General secretary of the CPM and perhaps the most ardent critic of the India-US nuclear deal, Prakash Karat, said unlike Condoleezza Rice, he never got the sense that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was unsure of how he would sell the pact in New Delhi.

Instead, Karat maintained Manmohan Singh was "most keen" to get the nuclear deal done and thereby honour the commitment made to the US.

The CPM and three other Left parties had withdrawn the crucial support they had given to the UPA-1 government over the nuclear deal.

Karat was reacting to former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who in her forthcoming book, says Singh was not sure how he could sell the nuclear deal back home.

Rice also explains how the then foreign minister Natwar Singh played an active role in convincing a reluctant Manmohan Singh for the July 18, 2005, India-US joint statement that envisaged the nuclear deal.

But Karat is not impressed. On whether he ever got the sense that Rice had about the Prime Minister being reluctant about the nuclear deal, Karat said, "He was most keen to get the deal done and fulfil the commitment made to the Americans."

Though it eventually gave UPA-1 time to gather support to survive, the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal, as the 15-member panel was formally called, held nine meetings. The panel had top leaders of the Left and Congress.

The CPM didn't go for withdrawal of support, and the government went to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for negotiating a safeguard agreement, a crucial step in the implementation of the deal.

The declared understanding was that the government would talk to the IAEA, and based on the discussions there, would come back to the UPA-Left committee, which would examine it. Only then the next steps would be taken.

This understanding was arrived in November 2007.

At the same time, the West Bengal unit of the CPM had raised reservations about the timing of an early withdrawal as well.

As the government moved ahead with finalising the safeguard pact, the Left withdrew support to the government in July 2008.

Later, Karat got flak from the party for delaying the withdrawal, which helped the government to survive as well as complete the deal.