The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday put pressure on the UPA government to "categorically condemn" the death sentence passed against former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and "actively intervene" to get it rescinded.
While the Congress chose to be circumspect, the CPM politburo, in a statement, denounced the verdict which, in its view, was "totally rigged" and delivered after a "farcical trial" that saw the chief judge being changed twice and Hussein's defence lawyers being murdered.
Stating that it would launch an agitation to protest against the verdict, the CPM also warned that the UK and US governments would be held responsible for all the consequences of the execution of the verdict.
In Tiruvananthapuram, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said that India can "bilaterally convey to the US and the UK its reaction against the verdict."
He noted that George W Bush is facing elections and reports had said that a verdict against Saddam would help his party.
"What Bush wants to claim through the verdict is that he has brought Saddam to justice," Karat said.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi's guarded reaction to the verdict, however, appeared to raise questions about the manner in which the trial was conducted.
"We have learnt of the death sentence. We understand this is not a final judgement and an appeal is permissible. It is believed that such life-and-death decisions must satisfy fully credible due process and must appear satisfactory to the people of Iraq. The Congress always stands for peace and tranquillity and for the democratic process for the people of Iraq. We hope and trust this verdict will further that basic objective and will not adversely impact peace and tranquillity for Iraq," he said.
But the party's Kerala unit came out strongly against the verdict, perhaps keeping in mind the Left reaction. Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ramesh Chennitala condemned the death sentence and said it was a setback to global peace and human rights. The trial, he said, was not conducted in a justifiable way and the sentence was backed by a US-backed court.
Like the CPM, the CPI (ML) also demanded withdrawal of death sentence that was delivered, it alleged, at US president George Bush's behest. The party said that American troops were still camping in Iraq and any judicial proceedings in their presence was flawed.