Vinay Kumar

It is likely to meet after winter session

NEW DELHI: The sixth meeting of the United Progressive Alliance-Left committee on the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal, scheduled for November 16, has been postponed.

“We have received a communication to this effect from External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the convener of the committee. It says that a fresh date will be announced later,” D. Raja, CPI national secretary and committee member, told The Hindu here on Friday. It is likely that the 15-member committee will meet only after Parliament discusses the nuclear deal during the winter session that begins on November 15 and ends on December 7. Though the BJP has been demanding a discussion under a rule that entails voting, the Left wants the government to take the sense of the House without going for voting.

Only on Wednesday did Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat say that neither the Left parties demanded postponement nor the government put forward any such proposal. However, it appears now that the government is keen on having a discussion on the deal in Parliament first and then convening yet another meeting of the committee.

The committee, at its five meetings spread over two-and-a-half months, has discussed all the major issues raised by the Left such as implications of the Hyde Act, and the country’s foreign policy and its strategic programme. Sources said the only job left to be done was to finalise its findings.

The Left parties have reiterated that the committee findings should be considered before the government takes any step to operationalise the deal.

Indications are the government will have very little time to go for India-specific safeguards negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency and then enter into negotiations with the Nuclear Suppliers Group. It will be nearly impossible to take the nuclear deal to the U.S. Congress by December, when the process of presidential elections in that country will be set in motion.

Polit Bureau meeting

The CPI(M) is holding its two-day Polit Bureau meeting from November 11. It will discuss the political situation and take stock of the issues before Parliament.

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