New Delhi Bureau
NEW DELHI: With inflation touching double digit, partners of the Congress in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) — while professing their commitment to the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal — are against an early election. This view is understood to have been communicated to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who briefed them separately on Saturday on the efforts to end the stalemate with the Left parties.
With Mr. Mukherjee — the key negotiator for the Congress with the Left parties — leaving for Australia as scheduled on Saturday night, there will be a lull in the hectic parleys that have kept the ruling alliance preoccupied for the past three days.
Ahead of his departure, Mr. Mukherjee met Dr. Singh and apprised him of the discussions with the UPA constituents and the Left parties. Ms. Gandhi got a similar briefing on the efforts to keep both the alliance and the nuclear deal alive.
The next meeting of the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal will be held as per schedule on June 25. Earlier, there was a proposal from the government to postpone it to June 28 but the Left parties were not in favour of rescheduling the meeting.
Given the importance attached to the June 25 meeting, Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has been advised to cancel his London visit. Over the past couple of days, the NCP has emerged as a key negotiator with the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Mr. Pawar met CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Friday. And, there was another round of discussion between the two parties on Saturday, with NCP general secretary D.P. Tripathi meeting Mr. Karat.
While the Congress has pressed its allies into service to help break the deadlock, the Left parties are also trying to impress upon the UPA constituents their apprehensions about the deal. In a bid to make the Congress see reason and not precipitate matters, CPI national secretary D. Raja spoke to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader M. Karunanidhi and is due to meet him in Chennai on Sunday.
While reiterating its position on the deal, the CPI(M) on Saturday accused the government and the Congress leadership of mounting a “massive disinformation campaign” to push it. The day also saw the UPA losing the comfort of Bahujan Samaj Party support.
The Congress continued to articulate its commitment to the deal with I&B Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi confident that it would go to U.S. Congress by the year-end.