The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stall deal or no deal: Left

New Delhi, Aug. 19: Dashing the hopes of the Congress leadership which sought a “compromise formula”, the CPM today made it clear that it was not going to budge from its stated position against operationalising the deal.

In other words, if the government decided to take the “next step” — go to Geneva next month to negotiate a safeguards agreement with the IAEA — the Left would “operationalise” its “serious consequences” threat, sources said.

CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury conveyed this to Congress crisis managers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony and Ahmed Patel today. The Congress leaders, especially Mukherjee, had clearly read the politburo statement very closely, sources said.

Mukherjee seized on a key paragraph in the CPM statement — which served as the ultimatum delivered by Prakash Karat — as a possible way out.

The paragraph read: “Till all the objections are considered and the implications of the Hyde Act evaluated, the government should not take the next step with regard to negotiating a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

The Congress offered to set up a committee to look into “all the objections” and the “implications of the Hyde Act” and offered to take experts and the Left on board.

After the meeting, Yechury told reporters that the government was welcome to set up a “mechanism” to study the Hyde Act, giving rise to speculation that a compromise was in the works.

But Yechury, sources said, had also made it clear to Mukherjee that any “mechanism” or “committee” did not mean that the government could proceed with the deal.

“They can set up any committee but they cannot take the next steps in operationalising the deal. We have told them that if they do so, they will have to survive without our support,” a leader said. The government should decide whether a snap poll was preferable to “lingering on” without Left support, he added.

With smaller Left parties more strident than the CPM against the economic and foreign policies of the Manmohan Singh government, tomorrow’s Left Front meeting is expected to fully endorse the tough line delivered by Karat and Yechury on Saturday.

The more crucial meeting, however, will be that of the CPM central committee on August 22 and 23, which will be briefed on the “next steps” of the party’s strategy if the government refuses to scrap the deal.

As if in preparation for the new line of equating “communalism” and “imperialism” as twin dangers to the country, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat today lashed out at the BJP and described it as a “pro-imperialist” party.

Reacting to BJP president Rajnath Singh’s charge that the Left parties were not serious about their opposition to the nuclear deal, Karat’s statement said: “The Left parties’ opposition to the nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States has been clearly spelt out from the outset in 2005. We do not share the views of the BJP on the matter, since their approach has been to bargain with the United States for a favourable nuclear adjustment while accepting the status of a subordinate ally of the US.”

Accusing the BJP-led government of “kowtowing to the US”, he said: “The Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott secret talks, the visit of L.K. Advani to the CIA headquarters and the eagerness of the NDA government to become a ‘natural ally’ of the US to the extent of considering sending Indian troops to Iraq will not be forgotten by the Indian people.”

The CPM, he added, “is certain not to have any truck with such a pro-imperialist party,” indicating that the Left was unlikely to vote for any BJP-sponsored no-confidence resolution in Parliament.

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