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Left sets July 7 deadline

JOINT STRATEGY: CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat discusses a point with other Left party leaders at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. Listening to him are (from left) T.J. Chandrachoodan (RSP), A.B. Bardhan (CPI) and Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc). —

JOINT STRATEGY: CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat discusses a point with other Left party leaders at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. Listening to him are (from left) T.J. Chandrachoodan (RSP), A.B. Bardhan (CPI) and Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc). —   | Photo Credit: Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Vinay Kumar

Seeks clarification from government on approach to IAEA

NEW DELHI: Political activity on the India-United States nuclear deal continued to be on high pitch on Friday with four Left parties setting a July 7 deadline for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to clarify if it will be seeking the approval of the safeguards agreement by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The deadline coincides with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s departure to Japan for the G-8 summit.

Letter to Pranab

The Left sought the clarification in a letter to the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the convener of the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal. The Left parties took the decision at a meeting that lasted more than an hour.

The letter was signed by the general secretaries of the four parties – Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), A. B. Bardhan of the Communist Party of India, Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) and T. J. Chandrachoodan (Revolutionary Socialist Party).

Reading out the letter at a press conference at the CPI(M) headquarters, Mr. Karat said:

“Various pronouncements are being made by leaders of the ruling coalition and some Union Ministers that the government is going ahead with the nuclear deal.

“We wish to know definitely whether the government is proceeding to seek the approval of the safeguards agreement by the Board of Governors of the IAEA. Please let us know the position by July 7, 2008.”

All-India campaign

Mr. Karat said they decided to launch an all-India campaign from July 14 to explain to people their opposition to the nuclear deal, disapproval of the government’s refusal to take appropriate measures to tackle high inflation and price rise.

“The Left parties will staunchly expose and oppose the efforts of the BJP and its allies to whip up communal polarisation with a view to gaining political and electoral support. The Left parties appeal to all other secular forces to join us in this endeavour,” a joint statement issued after the meeting said.

Later, CPI national secretary and MP D. Raja told reporters that the Left had been “reasonable.”

Congress reaction

PTI reports:

Reacting to the Left deadline, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said sovereign governments or political parties could not be subjected to deadlines.

“We are working towards triple objectives – to do a nuclear deal in the national interest, to carry along our allies with us for that purpose and to go to elections as per the constitutional schedule,” he said.

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