Business as usual? Sonia Gandhi with Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife Asma in New Delhi. India and Syria signed pacts for bilateral cooperation. (AP)
New Delhi, June 18: Left parties today stuck to their stand that the nuclear deal should not be taken to the next level after the Centre put off the joint panel meeting to June 25.
The Left parties are of the firm opinion that the government should not proceed to seek approval of the text of the India-specific safeguards agreement from the board of governors of the IAEA, a statement by the general secretaries of the four Left parties said this evening.
It said the text of the safeguards agreement had not been made available to the Left parties, which would have enabled them to form any opinion. Nor had the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal finished its job.
The statement sought to remind the Centre that when the Left parties agreed to the government starting talks with the IAEA secretariat, the understanding had been that the findings of the UPA-Left committee will have to be taken into account before proceeding further.
How can they proceed without the committees clearance? CPM general secretary Prakash Karat asked today.
The four Left parties went into a huddle around 5pm after foreign minister Pranab Mukherjees office sent word that the scheduled ninth round of talks was being put off.
Sources said the meeting was postponed because Mukherjee had been unable to sway Karat despite meeting him twice in the last two days.
Karat is believed to have briefed CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan about the nuclear scenario yesterday. Before this evenings huddle, he met RSP general secretary T.J. Chandrachoodan and Forward Bloc secretary Debabrata Biswas.
After issuing the statement, the Left parties said they would wait till June 25 to hear from the government. They said UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Congress leadership were expected to take a call on the deal by then.
The Left leaders said they would soon call on other UPA allies and try to explain their stand to them. But they seemed unsure which way the allies would tilt when the time came to either carry on with the Congress or say goodbye.
DMK leader T.R. Baalu visited the CPM office after the Left parties meeting.
In the UPA-Left committee meetings, both Lalu Prasad and NCP leader Sharad Pawar had said that they want the nuclear deal but they also want to take the Left parties on board, a Left leader said.
The moot question is whether these parties will sever the relationship with the Congress when the crisis comes to a head.