CPI-M breathes fire over n-deal but hints at compromise


Kolkata : The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Monday again warned the government not to proceed with the India-US nuclear deal but admitted that attempts were on to end the row that has led to political instability.

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Both CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu said after a three-day central committee meeting that the party was united in its opposition to the nuclear deal.

“Our politburo has been authorised by the central committee to see that the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government does not proceed with the nuclear deal. This is a unanimous decision,” Karat told reporters at the party headquarters.

“We want the matter to be discussed in the winter session of parliament. It could not be discussed (in the monsoon session) as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had disrupted parliament on the Ram Sethu controversy,” he added.

Karat said the deal would also figure at the UPA-Left coordination committee meeting Oct 5.

“We will discuss the issue with the Congress and UPA leadership before spelling out our stand. The party will also discuss the implications of the Hyde Act and the India-specific safeguards relating to the nuke deal and its implications on India’s foreign policy,” he said.

Earlier, Basu, who unlike the “hardliner” Karat is often called a pragmatist, spoke on similar lines.

“We have taken a unanimous decision on the nuclear deal. There is no difference of opinion on the issue,” he said, in an attempt to scotch growing speculation that the CPI-M was a house divided on the issue.

Karat, however, did not specify if the CPI-M and the Left Front it leads would withdraw legislative support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government if it took steps to operationalise the nuclear deal.

“The appropriate measures (against the government) will be dependent on what the government does,” Karat said.

In significant remarks, however, he said the CPI-M and the UPA government were trying to resolve their differences.

“An attempt is underway to grapple with the situation. They have replied to our letter, we have responded to that, and they have again replied, and we will again reply. So both sides are trying to resolve it,” he added.

Uncertainty has gripped the Congress-led government, which took power in 2004, ever since the CPI-M and three other Left parties warned the government of “serious consequences” if it went ahead with the nuclear deal.

The CPI-M argues that the nuclear deal is part of a larger game plan to make India a strategic ally of the US. Government officials have denied this.

The controversy has sparked fears that the country could head for early general elections.

Karat also announced that the CPI-M had taken back into the politburo Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and state unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and added that his party did not want corporate houses in the retail sector.

“The central committee accepted the politburo’s suggestion that the suspension should be revoked,” Karat said, referring to the action against Achuthanandan as well as Vijayan in May for attacking one another in public.

Karat said his party was against corporate companies in the retail sector.

“For organised sector retailing, our party wants regulations. We are trying to bring in regulation and licensing of not only foreign companies but also all corporate organisations entering the retail sector. Any corporate sector entry should be subject to regulation.

“Any big corporate should not be allowed entry in the retail sector without regulations, and we are trying to get that in place,” he added.

Karat also took on the Supreme Court for threatening to sack the Tamil Nadu government for not complying with its order not to proceed with a bandh Monday, terming it as “judicial encroachment”.

“Everyone has a peaceful right to protest. We do not agree with the Supreme Court which first tried to ban bandhs and strikes and then threatened the Tamil Nadu government with dire consequences for not complying with its order. If it goes on, then the logical conclusion will be a ban on all forms of protest.

“It is a judicial encroachment and the court’s harsh decision is absolutely uncalled for.”