The Communist Party of India (CPI) on Thursday said it would not rule out a consensus between the ruling UPA and the communists over the contentious India-US civil nuclear deal, but insisted that the deal was not in the "national interests".
Asked if the government and the communists would be able to reach a common ground on the nuclear deal, CPI general secretary AB Bardhan said, "I do not rule out a consensus but it depends on the government's stance. It has to accept that it's not a one-party government and one-issue government. One has the impact on the other."
The CPI, which held its national council meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, took strong exception on the "pressure mounted" upon the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government by the US administration.
"A host of (US) diplomats, ex diplomats and top officials are landing in India to pressurise the government and the BJP (main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party) to persuade them (in favour of the deal). Never have I seen so many high officials descending to persuade our leaders," Bardhan told reporters here.
"Sometimes allurements, sometimes threats or blackmailing... it is strange. But I hope our political parties are capable of standing up to them and to go ahead with the democratic process," he said adding that the US wanted India to be a partner in its strategic alliance.
"The party is of the firm opinion that the deal is not in the national interest," Bardhan said, adding: "The national council meeting held that India is being dragged into the US' global strategy."
Reiterating the demand that parliament should debate the nuclear deal, Bardhan said: "Sense of the house is as good as vote of the house. So the government should go by the majority."
Bardhan said the UPA-Left's 15-member committee, formed to address the concerns raised by the communists over the implications of the nuclear deal on the country's foreign policy and indigenous nuclear programme, would discuss its findings in its sixth meeting slated for November 16.
Referring to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat's praise for Manmohan Singh in a media interview, Bardhan said, "Our quarrels were never about personalities. We never said anything against the prime minister personally. We respect him and he has generally been courteous to us."
In the two-day national council, the party reiterated its demand to the government to procure food grains and vegetables from different parts and distribute them at reasonable prices to contain the price rise.
It also expressed solidarity with the people of Myanmar and asked New Delhi to take steps in support of restoration of democracy and human rights in that country.