UPA-Left panel on n-deal ‘in a day or two’


New Delhi : Even as the Left parties warned against going ahead with the India-US civil nuclear deal, the government Tuesday said a joint committee to examine the deal will be formed “in a day or two” but was silent on the composition of the panel.

Support TwoCircles

“It will be formed in a day or two,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has emerged as the main trouble shooter for the government, told reporters here on the margins of a conference of editors of the IBSA countries comprising India, Brazil and South Africa.

“Let us wait for the committee to be formed,” the minister said when asked whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi would also be in the committee comprising members of the ruling United Progressive Alliance and the Left parties.

After a protracted deadlock between the government and the Left over fundamental issues connected with the nuclear deal, the two sides agreed to form a joint committee to go into the Left parties’ objections to the deal.

The panel will examine in detail the impact of the 123 agreement on India’s foreign policy and its nuclear weapons programme.

The Left insists that the government has agreed that it will not proceed with negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) until the joint committee submits its findings.

The government, however, has been evasive on the issue.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar may travel to Vienna later this month to negotiate the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

Despite elaborate explanations and the prime minister’s assurances about the 123 agreement with the US, which will reopen doors of global nuclear commerce for India after nearly three decades, the Left parties remain unconvinced.

Communist Party of India General Secretary A.B. Bardhan Tuesday reminded the government that “it would face the music” if their concerns on the civil nuclear deal were not addressed.

“We will attend the committee meeting with the approach that the issues we have raised would be debated, but if the government brushes aside our concerns and goes ahead with its original plan, it will face the music,” Bardhan said in Kolkata.

Bardhan is heading a Left-organised ‘jatha’ from Kolkata to Vishakpatnam to protest against the multilateral naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal which involves India, US, Japan, Australia and Singapore.

Top left leaders Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, Bardhan, D. Raja, Abani Roy and Debabrata Biswas are expected to be part of the joint committee on the nuclear deal.