Toughening their stance, the Left parties declared on Thursday that they would reconsider support to the UPA government if it insisted on approaching the IAEA in spite of their opposition. On the other hand, Left leaders met important UPA partners in an apparent bid to try and get the government to change its mind.
“The lines are very clear. If they go ahead, we’ll have to reconsider our support. Our position is very clear,” CPM Poliburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters. He also met RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav as part of the ongoing series of meetings between leaders of the Left and UPA allies that began on Wednesday evening.
With 24 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the RJD is the largest UPA constituent after the Congress. Last year, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had insisted on going ahead with the deal despite Left opposition, key UPA allies had pressed upon the Congress to not sacrifice the government for the sake of the deal. That was achieved through similar meetings between the Left and crucial UPA allies.
The Left is now using the period till June 25, the date set for the meeting of the UPA-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal, to impress upon crucial UPA allies to change mind of the government.
On Wednesday night, Shipping and Transport Minister T.R. Baalu met CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat. On Thursday, CPI leader D. Raja spoke with DMK chief M. Karunanidhi. “I conveyed the Left’s position to him,” Raja confirmed. On the issue of withdrawing support, Raja said: “It is for the Congress to decide whether it wants to sacrifice the government for the sake of its commitment to Bush.” Though Raja did not share details of his talks, he is learnt to have asked Karunanidhi to intervene in the matter and speak with the Congress. The DMK has 16 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
The ninth meeting of the UPA-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal was put off for a week on Wednesday after the Left refused to budge from its position. At a meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Yechury late on Tuesday night, the former is said to have told the CPM leader that the government is keen on approaching the IAEA for an India-specific safeguards agreement. After which, the UPA-Left committee meeting was put off.