The Left on Tuesday set the nuclear clock ticking by telling the Congress-led UPA government that over the next four weeks it should finalise a decision to put the India-US civil nuclear deal on hold for six months. “Otherwise, there would be a political crisis in the country. We do not want that,” warned CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.
Effectively, Karat’s six-month cut-off period would mean that New Delhi should not enter into an India-specific safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
On the significance of six months, the CPM general secretary told Hindustan Times: “The only significance is that they (the government) should not hurry.” A senior Left leader later explained: “The UPA-Left political committee should not be a substitute for a detailed discussion on the nuclear issue in Parliament. The six-month period is a broad timeframe within which the discussion could be held. Moreover, it also means that India should not hurry through the deal because of US pressure.”
Karat’s statement assumes significance because the second meeting of the UPA-Left political committee, set up to address the Left’s concerns over the issue, is slated for Wednesday. The government said on Monday that once the deal is ratified by the US Congress, the Hyde Act would have no effect on the agreement. He said the CPM had decided to support the UPA only to keep communal forces at bay. “But communalism and imperialism are both dangerous,” he said.
The CPM leader warned the government not to take steps to operationalise the 123 Agreement. “There are just two to three steps left to be taken. Do not take those steps. Have a debate in Parliament. There are differences of opinions. You (the government) are isolated,” Karat said.
Taking a dig at Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s statement on Monday that nuclear power is good, Karat said, "We do not want 20-30 Enrons to set up shop in the country."