The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh glares back at Left

New Delhi, Nov. 18: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “extremely upset” with Left leaders, particularly CPM chief Prakash Karat, for virtually serving an ultimatum on the government on the Iran nuclear issue.

Sources close to Singh said the Prime Minister would not reverse the foreign policy even if the Left insisted on a discussion which entailed voting in the winter session of Parliament.

“India’s foreign policy cannot be tailored to please Iran. Whatever decisions were taken earlier were on the basis of consultations and deliberations of the cabinet committee on security. Every member was taken into confidence and informed,” a source close to the Prime Minister said.

The Left has warned the government against voting with the West again when the International Atomic Energy Agency takes up next week the question whether Iran should be referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions. The West accuses Iran of running a covert atomic weapons programme.

Three matters reportedly angered the Prime Minister. First, a joint Left-Samajwadi Party rally in Lucknow in which Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that they could bring the government down on its knees. Karat had then said India’s foreign policy would not be moulded by “US imperialism”.

Second, the Left’s projection of K. Natwar Singh as a victim of “US conspiracy” after his name figured in the Paul Volcker report. Third, the CPM’s protest against the Indo-US war games at Kalaikunda in Bengal.

“These defence exercises were done in national security interests and they were certainly not political in nature. No state government can tell the Centre where it should be holding them and where it should not,” the source said.

The Prime Minister reportedly took note of the fact that while Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee often intervened in an economic debate, he had a hands-off approach on foreign policy.

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