Close on the heels of the CPI(M)’s stern posture on the nuclear deal, the CPI on Friday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh threatening to withdraw support if the government pushes ahead with the deal.
The CPI cannot be a party to the government’s decision to go ahead with the deal and will be left with no option but to withdraw support, party general secretary A.B. Bardhan said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
Though Left leaders have been talking tough on the nuclear deal, this is the first time that a Left party has officially threatened withdrawal of support in a letter to the PM.
Criticising the PM’s call to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to “rise above party interests”, Bardhan said this amounted to an open effort at canvassing BJP support for the deal.
“Your talk of trying to build a consensus sounds hollow when you are fully aware that no such consensus is possible – a fact revealed in the parliamentary debate itself,” Bardhan told the PM.
On Thursday, the CPI(M) had set a March 15 deadline for convening a meeting of the UPA-Left committee to discuss the nuclear deal in the light of mounting US pressure on the UPA government to sign the agreement.
Pointing to the trend of the sustained US pressure, Bardhan said in his letter that the latest in the series was the statement of Richard Boucher, who said that “the nature of the government, minority or caretaker, would be of no concern to the US when the agreement is ready to be signed”.
Bardhan said that this amounts to telling the government that it should go ahead with the deal, regardless of whether it is a minority or caretaker government. “We are shocked that such presumptuous statements go unchallenged,” he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi along with other members of the core group held consultations on Friday in the backdrop of the Left’s demand for an immediate meeting of the UPA-Left coordination committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal and the CPI’s threat to pull out if the government pressed ahead with the agreement.
Later in the night, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury called on External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who heads the joint panel to discuss the issues flagged by the Left on the deal.