Focus on Indo-US nuclear deal at CPM Congress

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Coimbatore, Mar 31: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which threatened to rock the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre over the crucial Indo-US nuclear deal, is likely to raise the issue in the ongoing 19th party Congress.

The Left party, after the Congress made a veiled attack against it saying India need not surrender its vital interests to the US on the issue, reiterated that the deal was against the country's interests.

The Congress, which is debating the political resolution in the morning session of the third day, is likely to spell out its stand on the issue through a political resolution.

It remains to be seen whether the party, which is providing outside support to the UPA government, will throw an ultimatum to the Congress on the crucial issue.

The recent visit by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee, who had reportedly ''bought time'' from the US President to implement the deal, seemed to have not convinced the Left parties to dilute their stand.

The CPI (M), which held several rounds of consultations among themselves and with top leaders Prakash Karat and its CPI Counterpart A B Bardhan, is expected to come out with its clear cut stand this evening.

The Congress, though, has declared that it will go ahead with the deal, is keenly watching the development in the ongoing CPI (M) Congress and looking forward to the much awaited decision.

In the event of Left parties deciding to withdraw support forcing a mid-term poll for the Lok Sabha, both the sides have a lot to lose as the shadow boxing between them will have an impact on the poll outcome, political observers point out.
As the Left parties know that they would not make much headway with this combination in the coming elections, it was unlikely that the CPI (M) Congress would finalise its strategy for the formation of a Third Front before the elections. Political observers feel that the Left parties, like in the last elections, would contest independently against the Congress and the BJP-led fronts.

Expressing concern over the spiralling prices, the CPI(M) Congress charged the UPA government with not being interested in reversing the decision taken by the previous BJP-led NDA government to permit futures trading in agricultural commodities.

The party Congress also noted the increase in prices of petrol and diesel for the eighth time after UPA came to power in 2004, also had a cascading effect on prices of essentials.

The CPI (M) charged the Congress-led government with ignoring suggestions made by the Left parties on restructuring Customs and Excise Duties on petroleum products.

Instead, the UPA government had hiked the prices and collected more than Rs 40,000 crore in 2007-08 via import duties on oil.

In a bid to woo the regional parties in various states, the CPI (M) Congress also announced that it would embark on a national campaign for greater devolution of financial powers to the states.

The State governments were facing severe financial stress, it said attributing it to the imbalance in revenue sharing by the Centre and the states for the problem.

UNI

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