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Left parties react angrily to Sonia’s New York speech

The Left accuses the UPA chairperson of belittling their role in Indian politics before an international audience, reports S Patranobis.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2007 04:33 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

The Communist parties have accused UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi of belittling the role of the Left in Indian politics before an international audience.

The parties said that her speech at a gathering of Indian-Americans in New York made it clear that the UPA government was determined to operationalise the nuclear deal.

Sonia told the gathering on Monday that the Left’s concerns on the India-US civil nuclear deal were no cause for alarm. “Sometimes a great deal is made in the public domain of the opinions expressed by our friends who support our coalition. But this should not alarm you,” she said. “We believe that it is important to listen to all points of view because it strengthens the democratic process and the process to arrive at a consensus.”

These remarks came ahead of her address on Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly in which she spoke of the international community’s “collective failure” to move towards comprehensive universal disarmament.

Sonia’s remarks on Monday were her first public and formal articulation on the Left’s resistance to the deal. Last month, she had referred to it in the Congress mouthpiece Sandesh, where she said the Left was consulted at every stage when the deal was being made. The Communists then rejected the claim, saying they became privy to the deal only after it was finalised.

CPM politburo member MK Pandhe said the New York speech was an “expression” of the ruling coalition’s intent to go ahead with the deal.

Significantly, the CPM's Central Committee on Monday had once again asked the government not to engage with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on India-specific safeguards.

Forward Bloc secretary G. Devarajan said, "We have had two rounds of meetings. Naturally, she can say we would sort out issues. But in which way and how does she want the differences to be sorted out? If the Left's concerns are ignored, the government is in trouble."

"The Left is not only significant in Indian politics but the very existence of the government is dependent on the four parties. Can the UPA do away with the Left? Further, our concerns over the deal is in national interest," said CPI's Gurudas Das Gupta.

Another junior partner among the Left parties, RSP, which in fact demanded that support to the government be withdrawn, said the UPA might be ``hoping’’ to sort out differences. "But tell us how. Moreover, why would Sonia Gandhi want a furore in the US over the deal by saying something else," said RSP’s Abani Roy.

Sources said Sonia's speech may very well cast a shadow on the third UPA-Left meeting over the nuclear deal to be held on October 5.

First Published: Oct 03, 2007 02:57 IST