Left lavishes praise on Prime Minister

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New Delhi, Oct 31 (UNI) Disagreeing with suggestions that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should step down in view of the deadlock over the Indo-US nuclear cooperation deal issue, the Left parties today lavished praise on his ''unquestioned integrity'' but showed no climbdown on their unwavering opposition to the nuclear pact.

The top leaders of the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc made it clear that they wanted the Congress-led UPA government to complete its full five year term and ridiculed those who thought there was lack of understanding between them and Prime Minister.

Left leaders' observations came in the backdrop of certain sections of intellectuals, nuclear experts and the media's suggestion to the Prime Minister to step down in view of his failure to get the deal through, which they believe was highly beneficial for India's energy needs.

The leaders' comments assume significance in the wake of the BJP chiding him as the ''weakest Prime Minister'' and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani's assertion that the UPA coalition would not be able to hold together because of its ''inherent contradictions'' and the Manmohan Singh government would not last till 2009.

While CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said their differences with Dr Singh on the deal did not mean that they did not respect him, CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi echoed the same sentiment, saying ''Nobody has questioned his integrity, but he should realise the compulsion of coalition politics.'' In similar vein, Forward Bloc National Secretary said, ''It is not the question of an individual's integrity. We oppose the Prime Minister on policy front his being the head of the UPA government.

The same way we criticise the Congress, it being leader of the coalition, for its anti-people economic policies and its adamant approach towards pro-US foreign policy.'' Mr Karat, in an interview to Kolkata-based English daily, had noted that ''it is true that there has been a basic difference in approach between the PM and the Left on the nuclear agreement. We recognise that he has strong convictions on the soundness and utility of the agreement. Our differing view on the agreement does not mean that we don't have respect for the Prime Minister. His integrity is unquestioned.'' The CPI(M) chief stressed that they did not support early elections and there was no reason why the UPA government should not complete its full term. ''The remarks made by Dr Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi should be appreciated, as they have not made the nuclear issue a make-or-break issue.'' On whether these remarks meant that the deal was put on hold indefinitely, Mr Karat in a 'guarded reply' said, ''As it stands, the government has said it will operationalise the deal taking into account the findings of the UPA- Left Political Committee. So, if not indefinitely, they are not proceeding with the accord till the Committee is there.'' The Political Panel's sixth meeting is scheduled for November 16 when the Left expects the findings to be known.

On Mr Singh's latest comment that ''end of road'' had yet not reached and stress on evolving a national consensus on operationalising the deal, Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi said, ''The government should not operatioalise the deal in haste. It should, instead, stick to the implementation of the CMP in all its respects.

Any deviations from the same may have political consequences.'' Criticising those who were demanding Dr Singh's resignation, the CPI leaders said that at the time of the UPA formation, the Left had clarified that it was the prerogative of the Congress, being the largest party in the coalition, to choose the Prime Minister.

''We continue to hold the same position even now. We are not against any individual. We have opposed the government's pro-US foreign policy and its attempts to build strategic partnership with the US and the N-deal is the part of that attempt,'' they added.

On the Left's coordination with the UNPA in and outside Parliament to intensify opposition to the deal, Mr Karat said he had not discussed with it the formation of the Third Front.

UNI

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