A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi hit out at the Left over the Indo-US nuclear deal, Marxist leader Jyoti Basu said on Monday that his party was ready for early polls.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was fully geared for a snap election, Basu told reporters at his Indira Bhavan residence in Kolkata.
But he added that he was personally against early polls.
"It is my wish that both of us (United Progressive Alliance and Left) should stay together for some more time. So, I personally do not want early elections. But if the Congress so wants, we are ready for it," Basu said.
Asked about the CPI-M's stand on the India-US nuclear deal, he said: "The issue was discussed at the UPA-Left committee meeting on October 5 in New Delhi. I don't know what was discussed. But External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met me at my residence on Sunday and requested me to ensure that talks on the nuclear deal do not break down.
"I have asked (CPI-M general secretary) Prakash Karat and (politburo member) Sitaram Yechury to listen to Mukherjee and see whether we can work out a compromise or allow them some concessions on the issue," he added.
"The minister has explained to me the compulsion to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for an India-specific safeguards agreement, which we do not want. But the minister told me he will try to explain to the IAEA the objections from the UPA allies and try to seek some concessions," Basu said.
"We have another politburo meeting on Oct 18 where the issue will be discussed," he added.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and Left Front chairman Biman Bose were present during the Sunday meeting Mukherjee had with Basu.
While the Left Parties have threatened to withdraw support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh if the deal is operationalised, the government has been trying to convince them about the need to go ahead.
Gandhi, also the UPA chairperson, said in New Delhi on Saturday that her Congress party was prepared to face early polls.
The next day, she raised the pitch when she told a public rally in Haryana that those opposing the nuclear deal were against development and progress.
The central government is pressing the Left parties to lift their embargo on negotiations with the IAEA as it may run out of time if it does not present its case seeking India-specific nuclear safeguards as part of the implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal by the end of October.