The Ronen Sen controversy rocked Parliament for the second successive day on Wednesday.
The non-UPA parties sought the Indian ambassador’s recall from the United States even as the CPM Central Committee began its two-day meeting on the India-US civilian nuclear deal on which the Left parties want no negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We’ll withdraw support the day the government starts negotiating with the IAEA," Central Committee member Brinda Karat told
after the CC’s morning session.
From her remarks, it was evident that the party’s highest decision-making body would endorse the CPM Politburo’s line that “serious consequences” will follow for the Congress and the government if the deal wasn’t put on hold till doubts were dispelled about the implications of the Hyde Act on India’s sovereignty and independent foreign policy.
"All we are asking the Government is to press the pause button. It should properly evaluate all implications before proceeding further," another CC member Sitaram Yechury told presspersons.
He did not elaborate. But party sources said the CC would warn the Government without directly talking about withdrawal of support from the UPA.
The Left parties are equally adamant on Sen's recall. But an early end to the tussle over his continuance or otherwise in the US seemed unlikely. The Treasury isn't in a mood -- not overtly, at least-- to concede ground on the issue. In the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunsi condemned Sen's indiscreet remarks without revealing the government's mind on the demand for his removal.
Left to itself, the Treasury would want the matter closed-- the ambassador having tendered "unqualified apologies" on Tuesday for his undiplomatic comments against the anti-deal political groupings-- including the BJP and the UNPA – and describing mediapersons as "headless chickens".
But the final word on the issue would come from Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who responded to inquiries about the fate of privilege motions against Sen by reminding the House about Parliament's powers. "No one will be exonerated. Certainly, action will be taken but the due procedure and natural justice will have to be followed," he said.
As a first step, the privilege notices have been forwarded to the Government. The Lok Sabha secretariat would study its response and decide whether the matter was fit for a reference to the Privileges Committee. "We'll have to go by the process initiated by the Speaker," Dasmunsi said.
While Parliament debated Sen's fate, the CPM's highest decision-making body engaged itself with the broader issue on the table. Party General Secretary Prakash Karat furnished to the 80-odd participants-- minus West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who is in Kolkata to receive the visiting Japanese PM on Thursday – a background note on the deal together with copies of the Politburo's August 14 resolution and the four Left parties' August 20 statement reflecting their joint stand.
The CC's official position will be out on Thursday. In plain language it is expected to endorse the Politburo's decision while vesting in it the authority to deal with the crisis. While not objecting to Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar's visit to Vienna in the middle of September to take part in its annual meeting, the Left has warned the Government that it would closely follow the proceedings to ensure that there were no negotiations on India-specific nuclear safeguards.