Left to decide on government support after Oct 22

New Delhi,(IANS) The Indian communists will decide whether they need to keep supporting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government or not after their Oct 22 meeting with the ruling coalition, a Left leader said Monday.

Communist Party of India (CPI) deputy leader D. Raja said the India-US nuclear deal was not the only issue on which they differed with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

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“The nuclear deal is not the only issue on which we have strong differences. There are lots of other anti-people policies we have been protesting against,” Raja told IANS.

“The Left parties will meet after the UPA-Left nuclear committee meeting of Oct 22 to decide our future strategies,” Raja said, adding that the CPI’s national executive would meet Oct 30.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo has postponed its Oct 18 where it is to decide its future ties with the government. The politburo will also meet after the Oct 22 UPA-Left meeting.

Raja said they had received “clear signals” that the government would go slow on the nuclear deal.

But Raja said: “We have not been formally told that the nuclear deal has been put on hold. We expect the government to tell us (about its stance) at the Oct 22 meeting.”

Both Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said Saturday that they were determined to be in power until 2009, remarks that were widely seen to mean that the nuclear deal was on hold.

However, Left leaders admitted that a go-slow on the nuclear deal did not make much difference to their approach to the government.

“Anyway, we are not prepared to support this government for the entire five years,” declared a CPI-M leader.

According to Left leaders, the government’s apparent climbdown on the nuclear issue was due to the Left’s strong opposition to the deal, the allies’ warnings against early elections, and the Congress’ own assessment that an early ballot would not benefit it.

Two key Congress allies – Rashtriya Janata Dal and Nationalist Congress Party – reportedly said Oct 9 that the UPA should not go to the electorate over the nuclear row.

The Congress state units have also warned the leadership that rising prices of essential goods and Muslim anger over the government’s perceived pro-US tilt may hit the party’s electoral fortunes.

Some communist leaders pointed out that the government might have received “certain relaxation” from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the India-specific safeguard protocol.

“But we have no indication that the government will scrap the nuclear deal,” said one leader.