Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s breakfast diplomacy with CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Tuesday would be put to test over the weekend when the Left party’s politburo meets to take a final decision on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. <b1>
The meeting of the CPI(M) politburo, one of the top decision-making bodies of the party, has been convened on Friday and Saturday to discuss the deal. A special meeting of the CPI central secretariat has also been convened on Friday to discuss the deal.
A politburo member told the Hindustan Times that once the meeting is over, there would be no room left for speculation about what the CPI(M) will do on the issue. “A final decision (on the deal) will be taken after the politburo discusses the agreement,” a senior Left leader said.
The repercussion of the widening gulf between the UPA and the Left on the deal will almost certainly be felt inside Parliament, but on other issues. The Left parties would be using their legislative strength to oppose any bill brought in Parliament that they are critical of.
A senior leader said that in the past three-and-a-half years, the Left has never threatened to pull down the government in spite of sharp differences on several issues like pension and disinvestment. “But the PM has upped the ante. We will not withdraw support on a foreign policy issue where Parliament has no role. But there are many other issues which are decided by the Legislature, where we have the numbers,” the leader said.
Soon after the breakfast meeting between the PM and Karat on Tuesday, the politburo has issued a strong statement, reiterating the party’s demand to cancel the deal.
Karat, however, had told Singh that he would put the Government’s arguments to the politburo. Among the 11 politburo members who would be meeting are the chief ministers of Bengal and Tripura, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Manik Sarkar. It was learnt that the PM has invited Bhattacharjee for dinner when he arrives in the Capital for the meeting.