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'CPI (M) came close to withdrawing support to UPA'

"After the Indo-US nuke deal in July '05, we considered supporting the govt," says Karat, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2006 23:52 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis

CPI (M) came close to withdrawing support to the UPA Government in July 2005 after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concluded the civilian nuclear deal with the US, Party’s general secretary, Prakash Karat, said on Friday.

The move was, however, abandoned after the Government woke up to its concerns. Karat said that after the Indo-US nuclear agreement in July 2005, "it seriously considered whether to continue the support (to the government)."

Polit Bureau member, Sitaram Yechury, said CPI (M) had held detailed internal discussions on the stand that the Party should take on, what they saw as, and building Indo-US ties at the cost of relations with other countries. "We told the Government about it," Yechury said.

The Party’s senior trade union leader and Polit Bureau member, Chittabrata Majumdar, said that May 2005 onwards, a shift was noticed in UPA’s foreign policy. "A shift towards the US was noticed and we decided to take up the issue. We discussed the issue ourselves and informed the government during our UPA-Left coordination committee meetings. The matter was also raised a number of times in Parliament," Majumdar said. He added that the Left was worried that the UPA was diverting from the principles of non-alignment.

Subsequently, the UPA-Left coordination committee meetings were also suspended for a few months.

MK Pandhe, Polit Bureau member, said the CPI (M) was both concerned and annoyed on the issue. ``But the government slowly backtracked on some of the issues we raised. The Government did change,’’ Pandhe said.

Yechury added that after several discussions within the party and with the Government, it was decided ``that it was not an issue on which the Government should be brought down.’’

The Left later raised nine specific points of concerns that they had on the nuclear deal, saying that there were explicit departures from the July 2005 agreement between Singh and US President George Bush in the draft bills prepared by the US Senate and Congress. They also demanded a `Sense of the House’ resolution in Parliament.

The Government, however, did not agree to a `Sense of the House’ resolution, stating it would amount to an expression of no-confidence in the Parliament.

The middle ground that emerged was a statement in Parliament by the PM, which addressed each point raised by the Left. For example, the Left had said that after signing the deal with India, US could pressurise New Delhi to toe its (US) line on the issue of tackling a nuclear Iran. Singh said that the issue is purely extraneous to the deal and national interests would dictate India’s stand on Iran.

"The list of assurances given by the PM could now be seen as the bottom line below which India will never go. In a way, the PM’s statement has expressed the opinion of the house," Yechury had said this August after the PM’s statement.

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First Published: Nov 03, 2006 23:52 IST