PM calls for consensus on nuke deal, defends farm loan waiver

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New Delhi, Mar 5 (UNI) Asserting that the civil nuclear deal with the US would not compromise India's national interests, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today exuded confidence that the ongoing talks with the IAEA would be successfully accomplished but called for evolving a national consensus on the issue.

Replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks on President's Address in both the Houses of Parliament, Dr Singh said negotiations with the IAEA on the India-specific safeguards agreement were on and was hopeful of achieving success on this count.

''However there is a need to evolve a national consensus on the matter,'' Dr Singh said.

He said former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra had come out openly in support of the nuclear deal.

The Prime Minister also quoted former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who had asserted that the NDA was willing to accept much less favourable concessions to sign a nuclear deal with the US.

His observation drew loud protests from the BJP benches with Mr Yashwant Sinha asserting that Mr Talbott's statement had already been contradicted.

Describing former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as 'Bhisham Pitamaha of Indian politics', an unruffled Dr Singh then asked whether his predecessor would have liked his conscience to allow national interest to prevail or to indulge in politics.

This triggered another round of vociferous protests from the NDA benches.

In his nearly 45-minute reply, Dr Singh also stoutly defended the Rs 60,000 crore farm loan waiver, saying it would be a ''simple exercise'' which would be completed by June this year.

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