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No early polls, says Pranab Mukherjee

The External Affairs Minister says there is no question of sacrificing the Govt for the N-deal, report Nilova Roy Chaudhury & S Jha.
Hindustan Times | By Nilova Roy Chaudhury and Srinand Jha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2008 05:07 AM IST

The government has concluded negotiations for an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday. The UPA-Left committee would shortly meet to decide what the government’s next steps would be.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi Mukherjee said about the IAEA negotiations, “That stage is over now because that negotiation has been completed.”

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told Hindustan Times, “We knew the discussions (with the IAEA) were concluding. I had written to the Prime Minister asking for a meeting of the UPA-Left committee. I am waiting to hear from them (government).”

Mukherjee’s comment reinforced what a top government official had told HT earlier this week, that no draft agreement had been finalised with the IAEA. He said the government and the IAEA were “comfortable” with each other’s requirements and a draft agreement could be on the table in 24 hours.

Earlier in the day, Mukherjee debunked speculation about a mid-term general election, saying there was no question of sacrificing the government for the India-US civilian nuclear deal.

The Congress and its allies are not contemplating elections before the scheduled dates in 2009, he told NDTV. “None of the coalition partners or coalition supporters are talking of early elections,” Mukherjee said. He added India had conveyed to the US it could not conclude the deal in a specific time frame.

The CPM said its agenda was “not the stability” of the government. “Our agenda is the nuclear deal and we are opposed to it,’’ politburo member Sitaram Yechury said. “Whether the government will go in for early elections is for them to decide,’’ he said on the sidelines of the party’s central committee meeting on Saturday.

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