A damage control exercise on the nuclear standoff was on Tuesday initiated at the first meeting of the UPA-Left committee, with both two sides agreeing to discuss the India-specific Hyde Act and its implications on the India-US 123 Agreement.
Implications of the nuclear deal on India’s security and foreign policy will be discussed at the committee’s next meeting on September 19. The broad parameters and key points concerning the committee’s terms of reference have been finalised, panel chairman Pranab Mukherjee said.
Reading out a brief statement after the 45-minute meeting at Mukherjee’s residence, the CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri said the two sides agreed to discuss details of the Hyde Act on India’s self reliance in the nuclear sector and on foreign policy and security cooperation.
In response to a question whether the confusion on the operationalisation of the deal had been sorted out, CPI leader A.B. Bardhan remarked: “What confusion? Where is the confusion?”
The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) submitted a three-page note expressing apprehensions that the Hyde Act makes the law-making power of Indian Parliament subservient to that of the United States.
The Hyde Act, said the note authored by Prof TJ Chandrachoodan, violates the Vienna Convention, which forbids signatories from enacting laws that would cut into the sovereign rights of another nation.
The meeting also had some light moments. Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav reportedly asked the Left leaders: “Why are you people standing there with the red flag?” Quipped Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas: “The red flag is there because there has been an accident and the train cannot move until the accident site is cleared.”
Indications are that the four Left parties will submit a joint note on the nuclear question at the panel's next meeting. Possibilities of forming sub-committees to discuss different aspects of the nuclear deal are also being explored.
All 15 members of the panel were present at Tuesday’s meeting. They included Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury (CPM), AB Bardhan and D Raja (CPI), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) and TJ Chandrachoodan (RSP). Besides Mukherjee, the UPA representatives were AK Antony, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Saifuddin Soz and Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Lalu Prasad (RJD) and TR Baalu (DMK).