A late-night meeting between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat failed to convince the Left to allow the safeguards agreement with atomic watchdog IAEA.
Left parties made it clear that they would not give a green signal to the government when the UPA-Left committee on the India-US nuclear deal meets on Wednesday. Mukherjee met Karat late on Monday to make a last-ditch effort to convince the Left. “Our position is clear: the government shouldn’t go ahead with the safeguards agreement because after that the deal will be on autopilot,” Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said.
Mukherjee is said to have told Karat in the hour-long meeting that the Left should allow the government to approach the IAEA for signing of the safeguards agreement. He suggested that the Left de-link the safeguards agreement with the IAEA from the 123 agreement with the US and view it is as a gateway to dealing with other countries like France and Russia, sources said.
Karat is said to have told Mukherjee that agreeing to the proposal would mean allowing the Indo-US deal to become operational. “If there is any such proposal (from the government), it will come during the meeting. If it does, we will consider it,” Yechury said.
On Tuesday evening, CPI General Secretary AB Bardhan, too, met Karat. The Left has decided to oppose the government’s proposal at the meeting saying that it is not privy to the text of the safeguards agreement, sources said.
Left leaders say talks with the IAEA board of governors to approve the India-specific safeguards agreement are being negotiated in the context of the Indo-US nuclear deal and the two cannot be de-linked.