HT Image
HT Image

SP inches closer to govt on N-deal

Mulayam gets Kalam on board, but UNPA may split over support to Congress on the nuclear deal issue, report Srinand Jha and Prasad Nichenametla.
Hindustan Times | By Srinand Jha, Prasad Nichenametla, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 04, 2008 12:57 AM IST

The United Nationalist Progressive Alliance (UNPA), formed by regional parties a year ago, is on the verge of disintegration as key constituent Samajwadi Party and others have divergent views on supporting the UPA government on the nuclear deal.

The SP on Thursday convinced other partners to water down the UNPA’s opposition to the India-US nuclear deal and call for a national debate on the subject at a crucial meeting in Delhi.

The UNPA had earlier rejected the deal. But the crisis has only been postponed. “The SP seems to have made up its mind to support the Congress-led UPA government as and when the Left parties withdraw support. That will mark the demise of the UNPA,” a senior TDP leader told HT.

AGP leader Brindaban Goswami said, “Under no circumstances can the AGP become a partner to a possible decision to support the Congress.”

Just hours after the alliance put up a united show following a four-hour meeting, a delegation of only SP members — party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Gopal Yadav and Amar Singh — called on missile man and former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at his residence.

Kalam told the SP leaders that the nuclear deal was in the interest of the country. “National interest should be kept in mind; the country is bigger than politics,” Mulayam quoted Kalam as saying. Kalam also said that India could scrap the nuclear deal any time, if needed. Kalam’s views will be conveyed to UNPA leaders before deciding on the future course of action, Mulayam said.

By getting Kalam to endorse its support to the deal with the US, the SP believes it can counter allegations that it is not sensitive to the Muslim opinion — a charge made by political opponent Mayawati. Mulayam was one of the original sponsors of Kalam for the president’s post, before supported by NDA.

For the record though, the UNPA constituents, including alliance convenor and TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, stated their resolve to stay united.

"The prime minister's point-wise reference to issues raised by us about the nuclear deal are fine, but we need to discuss the specifics and have the deal vetted from a top-notch scientist," UNPA spokesman and SP general secretary Amar Singh said. He added that only then a joint stand of the alliance would be announced.

Mulayam said the UNPA would do nothing against national interests and nothing to strengthen the communal forces -- laying the ground for his party's possible support to the Congress.

But Amar Singh remained ambivalent on the question of support to the UPA. "Left divorce with the Congress has not happened… We (SP) are the outsiders, while they (Left parties) are the insiders," he said.

Denying that the SP had demanded the removal of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora in return for its support to the government, Amar Singh said it was for the UPA to decide whether to retain ministers who are responsible for the rising prices. "We are the outsiders so why should we demand their ouster," he said.

He made it clear that the UNPA was opposed to the government over rising prices and inflation scenario.

Story Saved