The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Let experts decide on N-power, says CM
- Biman tells party to prepare for election

Calcutta, Sept. 16: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wants the scientists to decide if nuclear power is an expensive and inadequate source of energy, an argument put forward by CPM top guns in opposing the nuke deal with the US.

“Let the scientists decide whether the nuclear power can be used as an alternative source,’’ the chief minister told a symposium on global warming this morning.

The remarks come weeks after a plan by the Centre to set up a nuclear power plant in East Midnapore’s Haripur was put on the backburner in the face of opposition from the CPM’s central leaders, Left allies and the Opposition.

Bhattacharjee had been enthusiastic about the plan but Sitaram Yechury rejected the Haripur project during his visit here this month.

Bhattacharjee stressed the need for eco-friendly industrialisation. Earlier this month, he dismissed the Left Front allies’ environmental concerns over setting up the chemical hub at Nayachar island.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose, however, told party workers at a meeting to “prepare for all eventualities” that may emerge if the Congress-Left standoff on the nuclear deal persists. This is being seen as a veiled hint about the possibility of mid-term polls.

Although the party is opposing the nuclear deal, Bose said the rank and file was yet to fathom the nuances, suggesting that campaign against the treaty has not peaked.

“Our party workers did not understand it earlier. Now they have begun to realise the dangers of the deal. We will hold intensive discussions on the issue,” Bose said.

After the meeting, the CPM state secretary urged workers to turn the opposition to the deal into a mass campaign before the bell rings for the polls, possibly early next year.

The CPM politburo and central committee will meet in Calcutta for four days from September 28 to decide the course of action on the nuclear deal row. The central committee members from Bengal felt that the Left and the Centre have time for manoeuvring till April, when the 123 Agreement is likely to be placed before the US Congress. But India will have to sign agreements with the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group by that time.

“The government will try to defer the elections till February as it would try to take the steam out of our campaign on the deal by presenting an aam admi budget. On the other hand, we will be busy with plans for our party congress in March and the panchayat polls in May. We may have to defer the events,’’ a central committee member said.

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