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Pawar, Lalu say no snap poll

RJD and NCP spike speculation of snap polls over the Cong-Left stand-off on the N-deal, report Anirban Guha Roy & Saroj Nagi.
Hindustan Times | By Anirban Guha Roy (With inputs from Saroj Nagi), Patna
UPDATED ON OCT 12, 2007 03:26 AM IST

The UPA's allies are now standing up to be counted. On Thursday, the RJD and the NCP spiked speculation of snap polls to the Lok Sabha over the Congress-Left stand-off on the India-US civil nuclear deal.

They seemed to indicate that the two parties should look for a meeting ground on the contentious issue that threatens to rip the coalition. Both Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar are opposed to mid-term polls and want to ensure that the coalition tides over the next four months, billed as crucial for the operationalisation of the deal and the government’s survival.

The undertone of their argument was that as long as the government is there, there is a possibility of going ahead with
the deal; but if the government collapses, so does the deal.

Lalu reportedly not only made this point at the October 9 UPA-Left meeting on the issue but even said he saw little reason for participating in it.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are yet to take a political call on whether or not to press ahead with the deal in the face of the Left’s opposition, Lalu and Pawar claimed that Left’s apprehensions over the deal would be amicably sorted out.

The RJD leader said that no party wants a snap poll, as it is not in the country’s interest. “There is no chance of a mid-term election. All concerns voiced by the Left would be addressed in an amicable and cordial atmosphere,’’ he said, stressing there is no question of surrendering to the US as the deal was only related to power generation. The RJD can never support imperialism, he said.

Pawar said the government will not fall despite the Congress-Left differences. "As the ruling coalition, we are obliged to address this issue, but the government will not fall over it," he said.

On some UPA leaders asking workers to gear up for polls, Pawar said, "Being in politics we should always be prepared for elections. Moreover, chances of snap polls are more when a coalition government is in power. But I don’t see that happening now."

As part of a quid pro quo, the government had proposed that in return for the Left’s nod for negotiations with the IAEA, it would keep the communists in the loop at every stage of the dialogue and even tell the international nuclear watchdog that it needed time to convince its allies.

In the Capital, NCP spokesman DP Tripathi said, "The Left is not asking for a reversal or a revision of the deal but only for addressing their concerns about the Hyde Act."

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