Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to intervene on July 29 to a debate in the Lok Sabha on his recent trips abroad, including Egypt where he signed the Indo-Pak joint statement that delinks the issue of tackling terror from the composite dialogue and brings Baluchistan into the document. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will respond to the discussion in the Upper House.
The Congress, on its part, has left it to the government to handle the issue. It even issued a gag order on its members from commenting on the statement that saw the Opposition accusing the government of “capitulating’’ to Pakistan.
There is no word whether the issue will figure in the weekly meeting of the Congress Core Group—which includes the PM and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
But in the last one week, Congress spokespersons Abhishek Singhvi, Manish Tewari and Jayanthi Natarajan have stonewalled all attempts to elicit a response, maintaining that the PM has already spoken on the joint statement in Parliament and there was nothing more to say on it. On Wednesday Natarajan refused to react to Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon’s remarks that the joint statement was a case of bad drafting.
The party’s apparent attempt to keep its distance from the issue has fuelled speculation that it is uneasy about the joint statement and its political fallout in the assembly elections in Maharashtra in October.
Natarajan, however, denied suggestions that the party was divided on the twin issues of the joint statement and the pact with the US on the end-user monitoring.