No immediate threat to UPA govt

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New Delhi, Oct 9: Signalling a 'positive' outcome of a lengthy UPA-Left panel meeting on the Indo-US Nuclear deal, both the sides today asserted that there was no immediate threat to the stability of the 40-month-old Manmohan Singh government.

Unlike in the previous three meetings in the last 45 days, members of the 15-member political panel, including Pranab Mukherjee, A B Bardhan and Lalu Prasad, demonstrated camaraderie before the large gathering of mediapersons in front of the South Block office of the External Affairs Minister after the nearly two and a half hour meeting.

As Mr Mukherjee read out a statement announcing that the next meeting would be held on October 22, the other members of the panel came out of the South Block in an apparently jubilant mood. Union Minister Kabil Sibal was seen rubbing shoulders with CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury who flashed the thumbs up sign.

Asked how long this camaraderie would continue, Mr Prasad said "rahega" (it will continue)...hum is sarkar ko girne nahin denge ( we will not let this government fall", while CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said "abhi to yeh hai" (it is very much there).

"Where is the crisis ? We are meeting again on October 22," Mr Bardhan quipped when newspersons sought to know if the crisis had blown over.

Mr Bardhan said the 123 agreement could not be seen in isolation.

"Who is seeing it in isolation," he said, when a reporter wanted to know if they discussed the agreement in isolation.

To another question on the longevity of the government, he said "where is the question of the fall of the government when talks are going on." Forward Bloc leader Devbrat Biswas said "every news is a good news," when asked about any positive development at the meeting.

The Left parties are meeting this evening to discuss the finer aspects of today's UPA-Left meeting. Mr Mukherjee said the next meeting was being held on October 22 in view of Id-ul-Fitr on October 14 and Dussehra on October 21. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not be in the country during October 14-18 as he embarks on a visit to Nigeria and South Africa.

Mr Mukherjee said after the meeting that the two sides shared their perception on various aspects of the deal.

He said discussions were also initiated on the implications of the deal on the country's foreign policy and security cooperation.

The decision to continue their engagement assumes political significance in the context of prediction that today's meeting would be the last. The meeting was held against the backdrop of the reported statement of Congress President Sonia Gandhi projecting the Left parties as the enemies of peace and development and the Left parties pouncing back with a sharp reaction accusing the Congress Party of trying to force mid-term election on the country.

However, the preparatory ground for a cordial atmosphere at today's meeting was created last night with a meeting between Ms Gandhi and CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat and Mr Yechury.

Ms Gandhi had requested the Left leaders to allow the government to start informal negotiations with the visiting IAEA Director General Mohammed El-Baradei on India-specific safeguards for the operationalisation of the 123 agreement. Mr Karat rejected Ms Gandhi's proposal stating that it would amount to implementing the deal.


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