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Left won't pull the plug for now: Karat

The CPI(M) dismisses the possibility of immediate withdrawal of support by Left parties to the UPA on N-deal.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2007 21:51 IST

The CPI(M) on Monday dismissed the possibility of immediate withdrawal of support by Left parties to the UPA government over Indo-US nuclear deal.

Asked by reporters whether Left parties would continue with their 'friendly football match' with the UPA government or score a goal, Prakash Karat replied "abhi nahi (not now)."

He said the Manmohan Singh government should choose between Left support and its endeavour to have a strategic alliance with the US.

"The Americans will ask us to snap relations with Iran and scrap our gas pipeline project. This is an attack on our sovereignity. The Left will not allow the US to shape Indian foreign policy," Karat said.

"As long as Left parties support the UPA, US demand for privatisation of the bank, insurance and agriculture sectors will not be allowed," he said.

Karat said Left parties were not against nuclear energy but Indo-US deal which would "affect" India's indigenous nuclear programme. "We have a self-reliant nuclear energy programme."

He also said "the deal does not have majority support in Parliament. "All non-UPA political parties are against the deal but the government it seems places its word given to the US President George Bush above Parliament."

Stating that the Left would not compromise on its stand, Karat said the UPA government instead of addressing the problem of price rise and strengthening PDS, was "wasting" time with its "pro-America" stand.

Speaking about the Sethusamundram project he said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi's daughter's house was attacked in Bengaluru and BJP's office was attacked in Chennai. "All these are happening. They should not make it a political football and the project must go forward.

"Now, there is a DMK government in Tamil Nadu. Earlier, it was AIADMK and the stand of of both governments is the same. The NDA had earlier initiated the project," he said.

He said BJP had also given consent to the project during the AIADMK government and it should not be scrapped. Karat said the government should consult technical experts and consider environmental aspects to take the project forward.

Asked whether the Sethusamundram project has not given leverage to BJP, he said "Let us see. Let the people decide. A far as I know, all political parties, including BJP in Tamil Nadu, are of the opinion that the project should go ahead."
Karat was here in connection with the party's nation-wide campaign against the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Mid-term poll not our aim: The CPI(M) said foisting a mid-term poll on the country was not on its agenda, but it would not support the Manmohan Singh government if it pursued the erstwhile NDA government's agenda of 'strategic alliance' with the US, PTI adds from Patna.

"Bringing political uncertainty or precipitating a mid-term poll is not our agenda, but we will not support a government which pursues the BJP-led NDA regime's agenda of furthering strategic alliance with the US," CPI-M Politburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.

He said while formulating the Common Minimum Programme, Left parties and Congress-led UPA discussed in detail the erstwhile NDA government's policy of strategic partnership with the US.

The CMP, he said, laid down that India would pursue an independent foreign policy of improving relations with all countries including the US.

"The Indo-US deal in its present form not only compromises independence of India's foreign policy but also has serious and adverse consequences for its poor people," he said.

Yechury, however, said he was satisfied by the deliberations at the UPA-Left committee set up to address the Left's concerns over the nuclear deal in that Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar had not discussed India-specific safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Vienna.

Yechury said the Left wanted the UPA government to put on hold operationalising the 123 Agreement till a new occupant of the White House was elected.

"There is no need for hurry as no immediate gains are involved since even if we place an order for import of a nuclear reactor today it cannot be delivered before ten years. The agreement itself will be nullified if the next president favours termination of the agreement," he said.

Stating that the provisions of the 123 Agreement, including the Hyde act, were 'insulting' to India, the CPI-M leader said, while the 123 Agreement signed with China envisaged settlement of disputes under international law (Vienna Convention) and the one with Japan provided for arbitration by a committee headed by a chairman belonging to a third country, nuclear disputes with India would be addressed under the Hyde act, a domestic law of the US.

On veteran CPI-M leader Jyoti Basu's statement stressing the importance of nuclear energy, Yechury said the Left was not against nuclear power, but wanted it without impacting domestic nuclear reactors.

However, referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent statement that the government intended to generate an additional 40,000 MW of nuclear power over the next 20 years, Yechury said it would not come cheap.

The cost of technology, fuel and reactors proposed to be imported for generating one MW of nuclear power was Rs 11 crore and, by that account, if these were imported for 30,000 MW, a whopping three lakh thirty thousand crore rupees, sufficient for setting up 2.5 lakh navodaya vidyalayas or 20,000 modern 100-bed hospitals, would have to be spent, he said.

Ychury said the country currently generated only 3310 MW of nuclear energy on its own and was not in a position to add more than 10,000 MW over the next two decades.

The CPI-M leader said compared to nuclear power, India with its huge coal reserves, could produce environmentally conducive thermal power at a cost of just Rs four crore per MW while it could generate the same amount of hydro-electricity or gas-based power by spending just Rs three crore per MW.

"Why then go for such huge investments when we can have the same benefits for much less?" he said, adding CPI-M wanted all its concerns to be addressed by the committee made up of Left and UPA leaders.

On the controversy over the Setusamudram project, Yechury said it was cleared by the Vajpayee government which had asked the Archaeological Survey of India to determine if the Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge was a natural formation or a man-made structure.

"The hue and cry raised by BJP shows the duplicity of its policies. The BJP always wants to arouse communal passions for political benefit," he charged.