Left cautions UPA against the ''US blackmail'' on nuke pact

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New Delhi, Mar 14 (UNI) The Left parties today cautioned the UPA government against ''the US blackmail'' on the Indo-US nuclear cooperation deal and reminded the ruling coalition that the matter was yet to be discussed at the UPA-Left Panel on March 17.

They said the anxiety shown by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher to sell the deal to India showed that the US had vested interest in the Pact.

The Left parties' sharp reaction came a day after the US administraiton made it clear that it was not averse to wrapping up the nuclear deal with a minority government, seeking to set at rest doubts over the fate of the agreement if Left parties were to withdraw support to the ruling coalition.

''Our basic position is that we can sign an agreement with a duly constituted government whatever its political status,'' Mr Boucher has said.

While CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Fiazi said Mr Boucher's assertion simply showed that the US wanted to impose the deal on India, CPI(M) senior leader Salim Mohammad reminded the Manmohan Singh government that it had a given a commitment that the viewpoint of the UPA-Left panel on the deal would be taken into account.

At a news conference here, the CPI(M) leader also said the US had no moral authority to pass judgement on the record of human rights in West Bengal and Kerala.

On the US' keenness to seal the deal, Mr Mohammad said, ''The way the US is out to sell the deal to India, it looks that the seller is more anxious than the buyer.'' Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi deplored that it was even more unfortunate that the Indian Ambassador to US Ronen Sen was also echoing the American argument.

To another specific query, Mr Mohammad, flanked by senior leader Rup Chand Pal, made it clear that the Left would not let the government operationalise the deal. Yesterday, top Communist leaders Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan also gave statements to this effect.

Mr Karat went to the extent of saying that the government would have to seek a fresh mandate on the issue.

On US administration's report on what it referred to as human rights violation in Kerala and West Begnal, Mr Mohammad quipped, ''The US has always been bullying those people and countries who it thinks are not 'like it' through its imperialist propaganda machinery on moral, political and human rights issues.'' The CPI(M) leader gave the example of China who he said was once on the US hit list for its poor record in terms of democratic and human rights, but now it had been dropped from the list for obvious reasons.

''The US should not nurse the illusion that it is the great custodian, champion or hallmark of human rights as has been so evidently come to the light in the wake of its recent occupation of Iraq,'' he said.

To a question whether the US ever tried to ''armtwist'' the CPI(M) on the Nuke pact, the CPI(M) leader gave a crisp reply, ''The US can do so only if you allow it to hold your hand.'' Mr Mohammad, who faced a volley of questions relating to Nandigram violence, asked the mediapersons to visit the area for themselves to see how the West Bengal government was making efforts to restore peace and developmental works in the area.

On the party's opposition to the government's decision to close down the Hyderabad and Bangalore airports, the CPI(M) leader said the government had chosen to ignore the recommendation of the Standing Committee that the old airports were not be closed down in case of opening up of the new ones.

On the unabated violence against the CPI(M) leaders by the outfits of the Sangh Parivar, he hoped that a good sense would prevail on the BJP and that it would come out of the shadow of the RSS.

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