The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yechury beats ‘pause’ theme

Hyderabad/Chennai, Aug. 25: CPM leader Sitaram Yechury today said the Left merely wanted the Centre to “press the pause button” on the nuclear deal and not to junk it, repeating himself for the umpteenth time.

What is the use of bringing down a government if the 123 Agreement remained intact in spite of it, Yechury said. “What we are saying is not to be hasty. Why such haste when even China took 14 years to say yes to its 123 Agreement'” he told reporters in Hyderabad.

While the statement shows no change in the CPM’s stand, that the party has been repeating itself underlines its keenness not to be seen as a government-toppler. The comments could also be aimed at Bengal CPM leaders, who do not want a mid-term election.

Yesterday, Yechury said the government would face no crisis if it did not go ahead with the nuclear deal till the Left’s concerns had been addressed.

Today, he iterated that the next steps towards operationalisation — negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nuclear Suppliers Group —should be put on hold till all the deal’s implications had been assessed.

He said the United Progressive Alliance should quickly set up a mechanism to discuss if the pact could be trumped by the stringent US domestic law, the Hyde Act, which bans US nuclear cooperation the moment India conducts a test.

The Congress core committee, which met yesterday, would hold talks with Left leaders next week, Yechury said. “The CPM central committee and the Left will wait till the Congress core committee comes out with a plausible solution.”

The Left wants the issue debated in Parliament and a government reply tabled.

In Chennai, foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee indicated that the date for the parliamentary debate was yet to be fixed, and parried questions on his talks with Yechury yesterday. Asked if “any progress has been made”, he said that since Parliament was in session, he could not say anything about the nuclear deal outside the House.

“The whole issue will be debated fully in Parliament, but as far as discussions with other political parties, including those supporting the government, are concerned, they are taking place,” he said.

Mukherjee inaugurated a foreign ministry branch secretariat in Chennai in the afternoon — the ministry’s third outside Delhi. The other two are in Calcutta and Hyderabad.

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, who shared the dais with Mukherjee, is trying to patch up the differences between the Congress and the Left. He has indicated the DMK will support the Congress on the issue and the party is expected to stand with the government during the parliamentary debate.

“There is really nothing for us to express individually on the Indo-US nuclear deal, but our leader is keen on patching up the differences between the Congress and the Left parties,” a DMK source said.

Karunanidhi has been in touch with both the CPM’s top brass and Sonia Gandhi.

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