Special Correspondent

‘Let Parliament debate the deal first’

NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday asked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to refrain from taking any step for the next six months to operationalise the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal.

At a rally near Parliament House to protest against the deal, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said the government should not buckle under U.S. pressure. “Let Parliament debate the nuclear deal first, and the government should consider widespread opinion among scientists and intellectuals which has been against the deal.”

Not for political crisis

“We do not want a political crisis. But in a democracy, the opinion of people is what counts, and we represent the third biggest party in Parliament. We have been fighting against both communalism and imperialism, which pose a threat to our country. The government is fully aware of our political stand on the issue, and the stand-off should be resolved through dialogue,” Mr. Karat said.

On the 123 Agreement, he said a majority in Parliament was against it, and it would not bring any benefit to the common man.

Protesters carried placards and banners saying “No to anti-national nuclear deal,” “Stop deal or eject,” “Nuclear deal mortgages India’s independent foreign policy” and “Pro-U.S. policies, FDI in retail, massacre of four crore jobs.”

Deviation from CMP

Mr. Karat used the rally to warn the UPA government that it was deviating from the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), which was agreed upon three years ago when the Left parties extended support to it. “Even today, the government is surviving on our support. Do not proceed further with the 123 Agreement in the wake of wide protests against it across the country,” he said in his 20-minute address in Hindi.

Reminding the UPA government that the CMP did not refer to the India- U.S. strategic alliance and stood for pursuing an independent foreign policy, Mr. Karat expressed the fear that the nuclear deal would bind the country for 40 years. “American multinationals like Wal-Mart will enter the retail trade and small traders will be ruined. Under U.S. pressure, India will purchase nuclear power plants but the government is not telling the people that the nuclear power will cost dearly, at least twice the amount in comparison to the power generated through conventional means.”

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