N-deal: UPA-Left next meet crucial

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New Delhi, Oct 4: The UPA-Left Political Panel on the Indo-US nuclear deal will hold a crucial meeting here tomorrow but indications are that it may not ease the logjam between the two sides, notwithstanding their efforts to avert a snap poll.

The meeting of the 15-member Political Committee, headed by government's chief negotiator and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will almost certainly witness the two sides sticking to their respective stands on the implications of the Hyde Act on the country's independent foreign policy and security.

The meeting is to resume the discussions on the Hyde Act based on the 12-page note submitted by the four Left parties and the 14-page response of the UPA.

The second and the last meeting on September 11 remained inconclusive as the UPA had repeatedly asserted that the Hyde Act would become irrelevant after the 123 Agreement was passed by the US Congress, while the Left felt that the Act, being an enabling law, would deterime the US approach after the Agreement was operationalised.

The Panel's meeting was taking place amid reports of UPA chief Sonia Gandhi's address at New York, acknowledging the Left's concerns and CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat's statement in Bhopal that efforts were on to arrive at a consensus.

Meanwhile, the Left parties had sent their response to the UPA in a 14-page note in which they were understood to have focussed on three major issues: India's independent foreign policy, government's stand on Iran and Iraq and the NAM.

Panel member and CPI National Secretary D Raja told the sources that even as the UPA-Left Panel's discussions were an effort in itself, more important was the outcome.

''The outcome means what the part of the convergence could be while the government decides to put the deal on hold,'' said Mr Raja.

CPI(M) senior leaders M K Pandhe and Nilotpal Basu said the situation could alter only when the government came forward with some new suggestion.

Mr Basu, former Rajya Sabha MP, said their party had already reiterated at its recent Polit Bureau and the Central Committee deliberations that the government should not proceed with the next step of holding negotiations with the IAEA on India-specific safeguards towards operationalising the deal.

''Our effort is to try and make the government understand this position during the course of the Political Panel's discussions.'' However, CPI National Secretary Shamim Faizi observed that in comparison to the adamancy shown by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and some of his cabinet colleagues, who might be expert corporate lawyers, UPA chief Mrs Gandhi had shown ''a bit sobriety'' in her observations in New York about the stability of the UPA government.

''But she too had failed to assure that the UPA would adhere to the CMP and the concern expressed by the Left would be addressed.

If that basic issue is not tackled and the violation of the CMP continues, the Manmohan Singh government cannot escape the political consequences that even a layman on the street understands well.''

UNI

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