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Left in nuclear rage but won’t explode

New Delhi, Aug. 7: The Left parties today rejected the nuclear deal and called upon the government “not to proceed further with the operationalising of the agreement”.

The four Left parties are viewing the pact as an integral part of a “burgeoning strategic alliance” with the US.

The Left’s criticism — running into five closely argued pages — as well as its decision to “mobilise the people” against growing Indo-US military cooperation, however, do not pose any immediate threat either to the UPA government or to the 123 Agreement itself.

With the Left joining the BJP and the “third front” in rejecting the deal, the Congress-led UPA government stands “politically isolated” on the agreement, but the isolation would not lead to “destabilisation” of the government in the near future, sources said.

“Obviously, we will not join hands with the BJP to destabilise the government on this question,” a senior Left leader said while emphasising that the group would take the issue “to the people”.

Left leaders, who have pored over the deal for the last four days, are equally clear that as an “executive agreement” signed between two governments, there is little scope for Parliament to undo the deal. “We will shout and scream inside Parliament,” a senior leader said but it was “unlikely” that the Left would join the BJP in demanding either a joint parliamentary committee or a discussion that entails voting.

For the record, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters that the Left parties had yet to decide on parliamentary tactics.

Although the Left leaders do not plan to do anything as drastic as withdrawing support to the UPA on this issue, the Manmohan Singh government’s increasingly “pro-US” positions will be attacked in a big way, which could further exacerbate the tensions between the coalition and the Left, the sources said.

“The government will be making a mistake if they think we are just ‘posturing’,” a CPM leader said.

As part of the move to “mobilise the people” against the Indo-US “strategic alliance”, the Left leaders also announced a plan to organise two marches, one each from Chennai and Calcutta, on September 4. The rallies will converge at Visakhapatnam on September 9, and will coincide with the joint military exercises that are being held on the east coast.

The rallies, to be led by Karat and A.B. Bardhan and other Left leaders, will be used as platforms to attack the nuclear deal.

A major part of the Left’s critique of the nuclear deal is that it cannot and should not be seen as “a separate and compartmentalised entity without considering its implications for India’s independent foreign policy, strategic autonomy and the repercussions of the US quest to make India its reliable ally in Asia”.

Neither can it be seen “outside the context of the Hyde act — a US law that terminates cooperation if the other party carries out a nuclear test— which “looms in the background”.

In a left-handed compliment to the deal makers, the statement said: “However much the two sides have sought by skilful drafting to avoid the implications of the Hyde act, it is a ‘national law’ which is there, at present, and will be there, in the future. The agreement which binds India into clauses of perpetuity and which legitimises the US abiding by its ‘national laws’ is something which should be seen objectively for its serious implications.”

The Hyde act passed by the US Congress in December 2006, well after Manmohan Singh’s August 2006 statement in Parliament in which he assured critics of an equitable deal, contains several conditions that “pertain to areas outside nuclear co-operation and are attempts to coerce India to accept the strategic goals of the United States”, the Left said.

More than the concerns on the nuclear future, the statement reflects the Left’s deep, almost visceral, antipathy towards the US and its firm conviction that India’s interests do not lie in getting closer to the world’s sole superpower.

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