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Left poses 6 questions on nuclear deal

Communists shift gear after the first round of muscle flexing between Cong and the Left, reports S Patranobis.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2007 02:41 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

After the first round of muscle flexing between the Congress and the Left parties, the communists have shifted gear.

They have begun talking about the modalities of the proposed mechanism to be set up to go into the communists’ objections regarding the implications of the US’s Hyde Act on India’s foreign policy options.

Points of reference

1. What is the impact of the India-specific Hyde Act on the 123 Agreement?
2. Does it (the Hyde Act) have an impact our foreign policy?
3. Is there any impact on India’s own nuclear programme, including strategic programme?
4. Will it affect India’s relations with West Asia, third world countries and NAM?
5. How much would the deal contribute to (resolving) our energy crisis? Is it cost effective?
6. What is the nature of the safeguards agreement that is to be signed?

The CPI on Tuesday unilaterally flagged six points it wants the panel to look into. (see box) The CPI, at the same time, said that the Left was not planning to withdraw support and force an election immediately.

“We have made it clear that there is no intent to force an immediate election. We have taken a democratic path of telling the government our objections and asked the government to address the objections,” said AB Bardhan, CPI general secretary after the first day of the two-day meeting of the party’s national executive. The Left leader reiterated that the “ball was in Congress’ court”.

“Most importantly, if you are going to have a committee, do not go ahead (with making the nuclear operational). The national executive of the party has endorsed joint Left parties’ view that the deal should not be operationalised,” he said.

Like the CPM and the CPI, the Forward Bloc also appeared amenable to the idea of a panel. After meeting Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony and Ahmed Patel, Debabrata Biswas said his party would “definitely” join the political committee as the perceptions on the Indo-US nuclear deal were “political” and had to be resolved politically.

But the Left’s junior partner, the RSP, rejected the idea of a mechanism.

“When we are opposed to the deal itself, what is the need for a mechanism? The government would try to explain its position to us. Would everybody understand,” said Rajya Sabha member Abani Roy after meeting Mukherjee.

During his interaction with the media, Bardhan alleged that the UPA government did not consult them before signing the 123 agreement. “It was thrust on us without any consultations,” he said.

There was no word on Tuesday about the composition of the proposed committee, which would comprise UPA and Left members. A meeting between the UPA and Left would be held before the mechanism is formalised. There government is also silent on whether it would put the deal on hold until the committee has submitted the report on Left objections.