Sonia endorses PM’s views on N-deal


New Delhi : Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday endorsed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurances that the civil nuclear deal with the US will not affect the country’s indigenous nuclear programme.

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Gandhi’s remarks at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session came a day after her government’s communist allies allowed the government to go ahead with India-specific negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The prime minister has told the nation that the nuclear deal would not have any impact on our strategic nuclear programme. I endorse that view,” Gandhi said in a speech to around 3,000 party delegates from all over the country.

Gandhi said the deal would enable India to acquire fuel and technology and help in getting much-needed electricity for faster growth.

Unlike once in the past when she came down heavily on critics of the nuclear deal, Gandhi was very cautious in her speech Saturday.

“I understand that some of our coalition partners have various reservations against some of the provisions in the nuclear agreement. We are trying to resolve the differences through discussions,” she said.

Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), said the Congress was committed to take along all the partners in the coalition government.

However, she maintained that the Congress should not lose its identity in coalition politics.

“Coalition means positive cooperation of all the allies. But coalition does not mean that we (the Congress) should loose our political space. It (the coalition) is balancing; it is also a political challenge.

“But I am very clear that we should reach the Congress at the top place. It is the only party which has its presence all across the country and it is the only party that can unite the divisions in our society and still remain secular.”

Gandhi also told her party members that there was “no anti-incumbency that we cannot survive if we work united”.

Urging her party members to be prepared for 2009 general elections, Gandhi said: “We Congressmen should work together to meet our target, forgetting our seniority and following the party rules.”