Despite pressure from the Left parties, the government on Monday declined to commit to not proceed with the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.
Speaking to reporters after the 15-member UPA-Left panel meet, Communist Party of India’s (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan cautioned that it would be incorrect to say the deal is off.
“How can you say that? Does the statement say that?” asked Bardhan, referring to the joint statement issued on Monday. Bardhan, who had prior to the meeting demanded that the government should state clearly that the deal was either dead or put on hold, said: “They should have said that. But they have not. And the talks are continuing.” Bardhan added, “The committee will arrive at its findings in its next meeting on 16 November. Now draw your own conclusions.”
Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the accord would not be “operationalized” before 16 November. “The committee continued its deliberations in a constructive and cordial atmosphere,” Mukherjee said after the meeting between the government and its allies in Parliament.
Earlier in the day, Abhishek Singhvi, a spokesperson of the Congress, attacked the Left Front government in West Bengal for the food riots witnessed in the state. “Those who profess concern for the poor should immediately set their own house in order,” said Singhvi, “All other slogans, shibboleths and controversies are secondary compared to the basic food needs of the people of West Bengal.”
AFP contributed to this story.