Holding out an olive branch of sorts, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said on Thursday that withdrawing support to the government on the India-US civil nuclear deal was not its immediate focus, but added that it did not want the pact operationalised.
"The question is not of supporting the government or not supporting it. The issue is of operationalising the nuclear deal," CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme.
"We're telling the prime minister: A, B, C, D, these are our concerns. Don't operationalise the deal," he added.
"Our interests lie in the interests of India and the interests of India lie in certain elements that are not part of the deal," Yechury maintained.
The CPI-M leads the Left parties that have been vociferously opposing the nuclear deal and the supplementary 123 agreement, saying it prevents future nuclear weapons' testing by India and impinges on the country's independent foreign policy.
It raised the ante on Thursday following remarks the previous day by US State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack's that the nuclear deal would be terminated if New Delhi tested a nuclear device.
On Thursday, Left MPs even walked out of the Lok Sabha even as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee asserted India retained the sovereign right to test nuclear weapons. Both houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day with opposition MPs alleging that Manmohan Singh had misled the house on the nuclear deal.
The walkout was rather ironic as this was the via media that had been worked out during a meeting between Mukherjee and Yechury earlier in the day.
"They (Manmohan Singh or Mukherjee) will decide who makes the statement," Yechury said as he emerged from the hour-long meeting in Parliament House.
Even as he sought clarification on the issue of weapons' tests, Yechury seemed to be taking a milder line on the nuclear deal, saying India should seek safeguards on the question of fuel supplies.
"The 123 agreement is silent on what happens if all countries stop supplying nuclear fuel. There is enough scope for negotiations (with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the International Atomic Energy Agency) on ensuring fuel supplies in perpetuity," he maintained.
Manmohan Singh had thrown the gauntlet at the Left last week, saying the "comrades" were welcome to withdraw support to his government if they were unhappy with the nuclear deal.
"Saving the government is not our responsibility," CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat had retorted on Sunday.