The Left-supported Third Front will not scrap the India-US nuclear deal if it takes power after the Lok Sabha elections but keep it "in cold storage" to save New Delhi from Washington's strategic designs, says Communist Party of India (CPI) leader A B Bardhan.
"Scrapping it might be difficult because it's an international agreement. We will keep it in cold storage to save India from the American strategic designs," Bardhan said in an interview here. "We will not kill the nuclear deal, but chill it."
The CPI, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Forward Bloc have called for reviewing the nuclear deal and also the India-US defence framework government.
In its manifesto, the CPI-M also vowed to scrap the defence deal if a Left-supported government comes to power after the April-May elections.
Bardhan accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of making the nuclear deal the centrepiece of his government and working for the deal rather than for the people of India.
"It's the Congress and Manmohan Singh who projected the nuclear deal as the centrepiece of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government," Bardhan said. "Manmohan Singh worked for the nuclear deal, rather than for the people. The deal does not benefit common people.
"People are against forging a strategic relationship with the US. We oppose it because it will impact on an independent foreign policy and the country's autonomy in strategic decision-making," said Bardhan.
The Left parties withdrew their support to the UPA and forced a confidence vote in parliament in July last year over the nuclear deal. The Manmohan Singh government won the vote and went on to sign the 123 nuclear pact with the US.
Upbeat about the prospects of a Third Front government, Bardhan said the Left was determined to keep both the Congress and the BJP out of power. "Unless the monopoly of power of the Congress and BJP is smashed, things won't change. They are the fountainhead of corruption.
"The Third Front has a fairly reasonable chance of coming to power," he said.
Bardhan pointedly ruled out supporting the Congress-led UPA in the event of a fractured mandate.
"There is no question of supporting the Congress or the BJP," Bardhan said when asked about repeated statements by senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee indicating the Congress has kept the doors open for the Left.
Although foreign policy is an issue in the elections, Bardhan contended that the party has shifted the focus on economic policies, specially in the wake of the global meltdown.
"What is agitating the people is the economic policy. The global crisis has exposed the neo-liberal capitalism. It proved to be a disaster globally and has brought about economic decline through out the world," the CPI leader said.
"India too has been hit. More than 200,000 have lost jobs and more are likely to follow," he said.
Repudiating critics who predict a bleak showing by the Left combine in the Lok Sabha elections, Bardhan said the four parties would retain their tally of 60-plus.
"Prophets of doom will be proved wrong. There will be some losses, but they will be more than made up by gains in other states," he said, alluding to electoral alliances the Left has forged in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.