A draft assurance by the government was reportedly in the works on Wednesday night after the Left parties put forth a condition that they would discuss the US’s Hyde Act with the UPA only if it presses the pause button on the India-US nuclear deal.
There was no formal word from the Congress on the Left’s demand. But CPM leader Sitaram Yechury was closeted with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee after the meeting of the four Left parties that laid the precondition for talks.
“We are discussing with each other. The situation is fluid,” said a Congress source.
<b1>Earlier in the day, Mukherjee briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the discussions with the Left parties. Others present at the meeting were AK Antony and Ahmed Patel. The deliberations lasted over an hour. Thereafter, Mukherjee conferred with Yechury ahead of the Left parties’ meeting.
Barring last-minute hitches, the Congress leadership is expected to announce on Thursday the formation of the panel that would include representatives from the Congress, UPA allies and the Left parties to deal with the objections raised by the communists about the deal.
In their meeting, the Left parties decided against being part of the committee unless the government gives a public assurance that it would put the 123 Agreement on hold till the panel comes to a conclusion on the Hyde Act's implication on India's sovereignty and foreign policy.
CPI general secretary AB Bardhan said there was no question of being part of the committee if the government did not make it publicly clear that it would not proceed to make the deal operational till the panel submitted its report.
"Whatever is being done would have to be in the eye of the camera," Bardhan said.
The process of operationalising the deal will begin after the government initiates negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency for India-specific safeguards and proceeds to get waiver for nuclear commerce guidelines from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Forward Bloc's Debabrata Biswas said: "The government has to announce that it is not operationalising the deal. The people of the country need to know that. It would have to be a public announcement."
Answering a query on RSP MP Abani Roy's Tuesday statement that the committee has no relevance, Biswas said Roy clarified his doubts at the joint meeting. "The Left stand is unanimous," he added.
On Wednesday evening, Yechury briefed the CPM's 43 Lok Sabha MPs on the nuclear deal. This was to prepare them for a debate on the issue in Parliament.