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Left blinks in nuclear standoff
CPM game for short discussion in House

New Delhi, Aug. 3: The Left today climbed down on its demand for a resolution on the nuclear deal, agreeing to a short-duration discussion in the House.

The government rejected both its suggestions for a resolution or a declaration, standing firm that it was agreeable only to a short discussion followed by the Prime Minister’s reply.

This morning, the shape of things to come was evident in the Parliament complex itself. Congress leaders were unruffled as the CPM’s Sitaram Yechury posed for a photo-op with the BJP’s Yashwant Sinha, Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh and others to project the “spirit of unity” in political ranks for a resolution.

The Congress maintained that the photo-op did not signal the start of any churning in the Lok Sabha.

If the CPM was cool about consorting with the BJP “as it did in 1989”, it was “most welcome” to topple the government.

“If the Left feels he (Manmohan Singh)… has betrayed their trust, it is free to move a vote of no-confidence. After all, the UPA government survives only because of the Left and if it has found a new ally in the BJP, the CPM is at liberty to… form an alternative government. The numbers are there,” a Congress minister said.

The demand for a resolution rocked the Rajya Sabha as soon as it convened this morning with Yechury firing on all cylinders along with Sinha. Prime Minister Singh was present in the House, which had to be adjourned because of the pandemonium.

However, by 4 pm, when the Rajya Sabha business advisory committee met in chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s chamber, Yechury had climbed down. Singh is believed to have spoken to him.

As of now, the Left is game for a discussion under Rule 176, which requires neither a formal motion to be moved nor voting. Members will air their views and the Prime Minister will reply.

Trying hard to save face, CPM sources claimed that if they were dissatisfied with Singh’s reply, they would revive the demand for a resolution.

“Don’t worry, the government is safe,” Amar told reporters.

No date has been fixed yet because Parliament has only three working days next week — August 8, 10 and 11.

A discussion under an equivalent rule is expected to take place in the Lok Sabha too, but parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi would not set a date because of the House’s “packed schedule” next week.

Congress ministers said the reasons for opposing a resolution are:

Discussions on the deal are at a “very sensitive stage”

The House should wait for the final legislation to be passed by US Congress and then see if the assura- nces given by the US are addressed or not.

“If they are not, the PM will be the first person to reject the deal,” a minister said

India would have to indulge in some “reciprocity”. “Therefore, we cannot tie the government’s hands down with a resolution,” a source said.

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