Consensus eludes UPA-Left meeting on Nuke deal

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New Delhi, Sep 19 (UNI) The differences between the ruling UPA and the Left parties over the Indo-US Nuclear deal appear irreconcilable with the two sides sticking to their guns on the pact at the second meeting of the "political mechanism" formed by them to avert a crisis for the 39-month-old Manmohan Singh government.

Though Panel convener and External affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the two-hour meeting was "constructive," Left leaders said they were not convinced by any of the arguments put forward by the government in favour of the deal.

"We have discussed several issues raised in the notes circulated by both the sides," Mr Mukherjee told mediapersons, while refusing to give any more details of the deliberations of the meeting which is officially described as "inconclusive." The next meeting of the 15-member panel would be held on October 5. In between, the Left would send another note to the UPA on September 24 and the ruling coalition would reply to it on September 27.

The two sides are undertood to have refused to budge from their known positions on the implications of the Hyde Act on the country's security and its foreign policy.

CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said both the sides discussed the notes they had exchanged recently on a wide range of issues connected with the deal, including the implications of the Hyde Act on the 123 agreement, its impact on the country's foreign policy and security needs, and the economic viability of nuclear energy.

Barring Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who is abroad, all 15 members of the panel were present.

An indication of the deadlock came when the four Left parties today met and outrightly rejected the UPA's response to their September 14 letter explaining their stand on the Hyde Act.

"We have refuted and rebutted everything that the government had stated in response to the issues raised by us in our September 14 letter," Mr Bardhan told UNI after the Left parties' meeting.

"We are not convinced about even a single contention of the government...because it was the argument of Corporate lawyers," he added.

Since the Hyde Act dominated the discussions today, the meeting could not take up other issues. "We could discuss only the Hyde Act and the 123 agreement. This is one of the five issues listed on the agenda," Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas told mediapersons.

The two sides seemed not to have come closer on the contentious issues like the implications of the Hyde Act, which the Left believes, impinges on the country's sovereignty.

Though both the sides decided to meet again on October 5, indications are that no positive outcome is in sight.

Just as the Left which is firm in their stand, the leaders from the UPA also stuck to their guns saying that the Hyde Act would not adversely affect India's energy programmes.

There are also reports that the government did not make any effort to go beyond a point to soften the "adamant" Left.


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