Left deadline on N-deal ends; Govt for another meet
Responding to the Left parties' letter asking the government whether it was moving the IAEA to formalise a safeguards agreement on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Congress on Monday proposed another round of meeting of the UPA-Left Committee on the issue on July 10.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the Committee, wrote a short reply to the Left leaders suggesting another round of meeting on Thursday, as the outside supporters decided to meet in New Delhi on Tuesday to chalk out their future course of action.
"We have received the letter. We will meet tomorrow to decide on the future course," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said in New Delhi.
Leaders of the other three Left parties also confirmed having received Mukherjee's letter.
RSP General Secretary T J Chandrachoodan said "the letter is non-committal. We will discuss it tomorrow." CPI National Secretary D Raja also said the Left would decide on its future moves at Tuesday's meeting.
The Left parties have decided to withdraw support the moment the government proceeds to the IAEA to finalise the India-specific safeguards agreement which they feel would be a step towards operationalising the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The outside supporters, who have a strength of 59 members in the Lok Sabha, had set the deadline till Monday for the ruling coalition to clarify whether it was going to the IAEA.
In their letter sent to Mukherjee last Friday, top Left leaders had stated that various pronouncements were being made by leaders of the ruling coalition and some Union ministers that the government was going ahead with the deal.
"We wish to know definitely whether the government is proceeding to seek approval of the safeguards agreement from the Board of Governors of the IAEA. Please let us know the position by July seven," the letter signed by the General Secretaries of CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Foward Bloc had said.
The Left ultimatum indicated that they had virtually reached a point of no return as their top leaders warned they could vote against the government in case of a confidence vote in Parliament.
"If there is a vote of confidence in Parliament on the issue, the Left will vote against the Government. But we will do so only after the Government formally conveys its decision to proceed with the deal," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said recently.
His CPI counterpart AB Bardhan, in an interview, however did not say whether they would join hands with BJP to bring down the government in case of a confidence vote but made it clear that they would pull out if it went to the IAEA.
The Left would also prepare a "chargesheet" on the "failures" of the government on various counts and launch a nationwide campaign against the Congress linking it with inflation and unemployment.