The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Withdraw, what withdraw'
- Stability onus on govt: Karat

New Delhi, Aug. 23: The CPM central committee today authorised the politburo “to take whatever necessary measures” to ensure that the Indo-US nuclear deal “is not operationalised” but also decided that the onus of destabilising the UPA-Left alliance should be placed firmly at the government’s door.

In other words, while the party leadership has decided not to budge from its “no next step” stand, it does not want to be seen as “toppling” the government.

If the government insists on going ahead in defiance of “majority opinion” in Parliament against the deal, it alone should be blamed for forcing mid-term polls.

This was the message, between the lines, of both the resolution “unanimously” adopted by the central committee and the responses given by party general secretary Prakash Karat at a news conference that followed. While making it clear that there had been no change in the CPM’s firm opposition to the nuke deal, the resolution underlined that it was not for destabilising the government either.

“The central committee does not want the current crisis to affect the government,” it said, a point iterated by Karat when he told the media that “we have not used the words withdraw support in any of our statements. You won’t see a single leader of the CPM either in Delhi or in Calcutta or in Hyderabad having said we will withdraw support”.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s “if winter is here, can spring be far behind'” line, Karat quipped: “I hope there will be no nuclear fission and not a long nuclear winter.”

But lest these remarks be taken as a softening of stance, the resolution as well individual central committee members clarified that the party’s bottom line remained “save the government or save the deal.”

After stating that it did not want the current crisis to affect the government, the very next line of the resolution noted: “However, this is contingent upon the government not proceeding further with the agreement.”

Karat made the same point repeatedly. “The responsibility for the future of this government lies with the government,” he said. Asked if it could continue as a minority government, he said: “This government runs on our support. How can it continue without our support'”

But the issue of mid-term elections had not come up before the central committee, which discussed only the implications of the nuclear deal and authorised the leadership to block it, he said.

In what appeared a veiled effort to drive a wedge between the government’s eagerness to go ahead with the deal and the Congress’s reluctance to risk a mid-term poll, Karat also stressed that the Left leaders were waiting “for the Congress leadership’s response” to their demand rather than that of the government.

“We are not in a hurry,” he said. “We have already said three days ago that we are prepared to consider any mechanism or committee to examine all the problems connected with this agreement provided they do not proceed with the next step.”

On Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar’s proposed visit to Vienna to attend the IAEA conference, Karat said: “We know we are members of the IAEA board. Our representatives will attend the international conference. We expected them to be there. We have to have India’s representatives there.”

The central committee decided to launch a mass campaign to highlight “the way the tie-up with the US is affecting the various policies which affect the people’s livelihood, economic sovereignty and independent foreign policy”.

The CPM will conduct its independent campaign till September 15 — by when the government’s response should be known.

Congress upbeat

The Congress expressed the hope that “some understanding will be reached and some way will be found”.


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