The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Snubbed, CPM looks at next best N-shield
- Left split, Karat explores options

New Delhi, July 27: CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has said his party would not be satisfied with a voluntary statement by the Prime Minister on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The possibility of Parliament adopting a resolution to lay down the parameters on the nuclear deal, however, receded following tough talk by Pranab Mukherjee at a meeting with Left MPs yesterday.

The defence minister told the MPs that such a resolution would virtually mean the “end of the day” for the UPA government.

It was not just the Congress leadership but the CPI, too, struck a discordant note. “We are against bringing a resolution with the BJP. This is our party’s stand,” the CPI’s Gurudas Das Gupta said. “The Prime Minister should make a statement that will remove our apprehensions,” he added.

The focus of deliberations by the critics of the Indo-US deal has shifted from a resolution to a statement by the Prime Minister.

But Karat said his party is still exploring other options through which parameters can be laid down in Parliament. A suo moto statement by the Prime Minister does not convey the “sense of the House” nor can it be treated as binding on the government.

A possible way out could be to have a discussion followed by the Prime Minister’s response that will spell out the parameters within which the UPA government will have to negotiate the deal.

On Sunday, the CPM leadership had circulated a six-page note among all political parties, urging them to compel the government to spell out the parameters.

The party fears that the negotiations have gone beyond the original Indo-US agreement and the assurances given by the Prime Minister on the floor of the House.

Karat said it was not a “party” but a “national” issue and the CPM would talk to all political parties, including the NDA. He added that the form in which the House will convey its “sense” is still to be thrashed out.

Karat, however, cited the example of a resolution passed by Parliament against sending troops to Iraq, which had forced the NDA government to jettison its plan.

Even though the CPM avoided zeroing in on a resolution, it was clear the party was hoping for such a guarantee. A resolution adopted by both Houses of Parliament is more binding on the government than a statement by Singh.

In the Rajya Sabha, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party took the lead in demanding a resolution on the nuclear deal. The MPs walked out to press for their demand, but the CPM members did not join the protest.

CPM member Brinda Karat said India cannot shift its goalposts and Parliament must convey that sense. She said the government should strive for a unanimous statement by Parliament.

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