No blank cheque to govt on nuke deal-CPI

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New Delhi Nov 14 (UNI) The CPI today admitted that it has taken a ''flexible and reasonable'' stand by allowing the Manmohan Singh government to hold negotiations with the IAEA on the India-specific safeguards agreement but asserted that it has not given a ''blank cheque'' to it for entering into an agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog.

''We have taken a flexible stand, but there is no U-turn or any climbdown in our opposition to the deal as it is against the nation's interest,'' said party Floor leader in the Lok Sabha Gurudas Dasgupta at a press conference.

Party Deputy leader C K Chandrappan and party leader in the Rajya Sabha D Raja were among those present at the conference.

The CPI leaders said the government had given them ''an assurance'' that it would not move forward on the deal beyond initiating negotiations with the IAEA and get back to the UPA-Left Political Committee on the status of the discussions.

Mr Dasgupta said the government had already agreed to take into account the findings of the panel. ''The government will not operationalise the deal till the issue is sorted out with us (Left).'' Replying to a specific query on the government ''violating'' the understanding, Mr Raja quipped, ''I don't think that the government can betray us like this. This is not an affair between two families.

It is between the government and the Left parties.'' Responding to another question on whether ''flexibility'' shown by the Left was for the ''honourable exit'' of Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh from the deal, Mr Dasgupta replied, ''it is not true.'' The CPI leaders reiterated that there was no change in their stand and that the opposition to the deal would continue.

The CPI leaders' admission on the deal came two days ahead of the crucial UPA-Left Political Panel's reconvened meeting here on November 16 when a three-month-old stand-off between the government and the Left over the N-Pact is expected to be broken.

UNI

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