Congress holds its ground on Indo-US nuclear deal
I will come to the parliament after process is over in IAEA and NSG, says PM; Left mulls timing of pullout, report Varghese K George and Jatin Gandhi. Quotes tell day’s storyindia Updated: Jul 01, 2008 02:23 IST
The Congress on Monday sounded determined to take the next step in concluding the India-US nuclear deal, the Left’s threat of pulling the plug on the government notwithstanding.
“I have said it before. I will repeat it again that I have told them (Left) you allow us to complete the process. Once the process is over, I will bring it before parliament and abide by the House,” PM Manmohan Singh said.
<b1>Asked about Sunday’s CPM politburo resolution on withdrawing support if the government went ahead, Singh said: “We’ll grapple with that stage when we come to it... I hope we can work out… an outcome that will satisfy all parties.”
Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said: “We are committed to take forward the nuclear deal… It is of paramount national interest.”
Should the Left pull out, the Congress will need around 50 MPs to survive a floor test in parliament, and is looking at the 39-MP Samajwadi Party to bail it out. Two days ago, SP chief Mulayam Singh had said his “sour relations” with the Congress were a “thing of the past”, and on Monday, party general secretary Amar Singh appeared to open the door wider. “Politics ought not to be governed by past hurts, prejudices and personal egos,” he said on arrival from abroad.
In the Left, the mood is belligerent. They do not expect the Congress to back off, and are now mulling the right time to pull the plug. They also feel that the SP will, despite its current reluctance to commit to supporting the government, will eventually go along with the Congress.
On Monday, the CPM said it viewed the PM’s participation in the G8 Summit as an indication that the government was going ahead with deal. Singh is supposed to leave on July 7.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat told Hindustan Times: "The Left parties are consulting each other in the context of the Prime Minister's participation in the G8 summit. Earlier, he had said he would go only if he gets clearance to go ahead with the nuclear deal. His going to Japan is an indication that they (the government) are going ahead with the deal. We are, therefore, discussing the timing of withdrawal."
So, will the Left withdraw support if the PM goes to Japan?
Karat replied: "That is not the case yet. We are still discussing the time (for withdrawing support)." Later, in his meeting with Republican Party of India MP Ramdas Athawale, Karat repeated the Left's assertion that the government would have to choose between communist support and going to the IAEA.
"He made it clear that not only would the Left withdraw support, but would vote against the government," Athawale told reporters after the meeting. The RPI is a UPA ally.
"Karat also said that if the SP supported the government, it wouldn't fall," Atha-wale added. At his meeting with Karat last week, Mulayam had not promised the CPM that his party would not go with the Congress on the deal. The RPI, on its part, told Karat it was for the deal, but did not want early elections. Karat replied that it was up to the Congress now to avoid elections.
Karat also met with NCP general secretary DP Tripathi. Tripathi refused to divulge details of what transpired, but said: "The government is not in danger right now. The problem will be solved through discussions."