The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress sees light in Left tunnel
- Karat query awaits Sonia

New Delhi, Aug. 23: As analysts settled down with magnifying glasses to crack Prakash Karat’s fine print, the Congress spied a window of opportunity.

“We hope that keeping in view the national interest, some understanding will be reached and some way will be found,” AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told PTI. Dwivedi picked out the Left statement that it did not want to destabilise the government.

Some Congress leaders feel that the clarification reflects the reluctance on the part of the Left, largely stemming from the adverse inputs from Kerala and Bengal, to face polls now.

All eyes are on Sonia Gandhi, who returns from South Africa tomorrow evening, after Prakash Karat said today: “We want answers from the Congress leadership.”

With the CPM general secretary firm that the nuclear deal should be put on hold, Congress sources said it was for Sonia to take a political call.

Sources in the government who were so far willing to privately “share” the Prime Minister’s “mind” on the issue clammed up today and said all queries should “henceforth” be addressed to the party.

Manmohan Singh would no longer be in the public gaze as the crisis had reached its “penultimate” stage, the Congress sources said. If at all he steps in, it will be to make an intervention in the nuclear deal debate expected next week.

Sources at various levels of the Congress hierarchy said the following points would be on Sonia’s mind:

Can she live with the charge that the Congress cannot run a coalition government

Can the party “afford” to snap ties with the Left, considering that they might have to do business again to keep the BJP out' Sonia, the sources said, believes the BJP is a big threat and a “breach” with the Left won’t help

Pressure from allies to avoid snap polls. Lalu Prasad and M. Karunanidhi have hinted that they want the Congress to avert early elections.

Sources close to the Tamil Nadu chief minister said he wondered why the Prime Minister was staking his prestige on the deal when he was “unwilling” to pursue more “important” domestic issues like OBC reservation

How to keep the UPA intact. Efforts are on to pick up new allies, like Mamata Banerjee, and bring back those estranged, like the Telengana Rashtra Samiti

If any deal-related announcement is made in the House, who would do it — the Prime Minister or the foreign minister'

The Congress core committee is to meet tomorrow and again over the weekend.

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