New Delhi : The fifth meeting of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Left nuclear committee Monday is expected to give a clear idea where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government stands on the Indo-US nuclear deal. This is the Left’s hope.
Although the poll clouds have faded away following public statements by the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi that they are against early elections, tensions between the ruling Congress and its communist allies have not subsided over the civil nuclear deal.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left bloc is expecting the ruling party to spell out clearly its stance on the nuclear deal Monday’s meet in the wake of the prime minister’s latest statements that the government will still try to build a national consensus over the issue.
The 15-member nuclear committee, comprising leaders of both sides including cabinet ministers, will discuss the nuclear agreement and deepening strategic ties with Washington, to which the Left is strongly opposed.
Left leaders have said they would not let the government leave them and “the country in confusion” over the nuclear deal.
“The government has to clarify its stance. We are expecting them to convey it to us at the meeting,” Communist Party of India (CPI) deputy leader D. Raja said.
CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan has said that the Left was not going to wait “indefinitely” and stressed that a clear-cut response from the government was essential to end the uncertainty over the deal.
After stating that it will “not be the end of the world” if the deal does not go through, Manmohan Singh on his way back from Nigeria and South Africa said Thursday that he had not given up hope on convincing his Left allies to back the Indo-US nuclear cooperation.
Manmohan Singh’s colleagues have also added to the confusion.
“The nuclear deal is not off, but is on a state of pause. It is in suspended animation,” a senior minister said last week.
Asked how long the pause would last, the minister said: “We can’t say. China put its deal frozen for 30 years… but we (government) are keen to end the nuclear isolation for India.”
The minister too said that Monday’s meeting with the Left would be crucial.
“We may officially inform them that we are going slow on the deal and might decide to meet again, or we will dissolve the committee and agree to disagree.”
Left leaders have decided to hold separate and joint meetings after Monday’s meeting.
While the CPI-M politburo, which was to meet Oct 18, has postponed it for another day after Monday, the CPI’s national executive will meet Oct 29 and 30.
“There would be a joint meeting of Left parties also,” said a Left leader.