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Scent of spring, hint of steel

New Delhi, Aug. 22: Shelley on his lips and a smile on his face, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight said his government would be able to overcome the current “turbulence”.

However, Singh also indicated his determination to go ahead with the nuclear deal, perhaps buoyed by a Congress assessment that the party is best-placed for an election if it becomes unavoidable.

But Singh did suggest that an imminent showdown on the deal need not take place, saying that after the agreement between India and the US, “several stages are still to be undertaken if this is to be operationalised”.

Singh, sitting next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Hyderabad House this evening, broke his silence on the nuclear deal after the Left ultimatum by fielding questions from reporters.

Asked why he was so confident of going forward with the nuclear deal, Singh smiled and said: “That is a very naughty question, but I will try and answer it.

“There is some turbulence, but I am confident that we shall be able to overcome it.’’

That was when Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind entered the picture, though the economist-Prime Minister was not sure about the poet. “As someone said, ‘if winter comes, can spring be far behind'” Singh asked.

If Prakash Karat was watching television and seeing in the poetry the end of the nuclear winter, there was a twist in the tale.

Singh suddenly turned to his right, looked at Abe and said: “My sincere hope is when the matter comes before the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group), we will have the support of the Japanese government.’’

The 45-member NSG’s support is mandatory for the nuclear deal. The Prime Minister’s appeal in public, which came on a day the CPM’s central committee was deliberating on the fate of his government, is being seen as a message to the Left and the country that the government wants to go ahead with the deal.

The Japanese Prime Minister said his country would first watch how its concerns were addressed in the safeguards agreement at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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