New Delhi: With time running out to seal the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition at the Centre may be gearing up for a final push to clinch it.
The government has taken a series of measures over the pa-st few weeks to appease the Left. At the same time, differences within the main opposition group, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, have become increasingly public, and even the Samajwadi Party has indicated it may be open to discussions on the deal.
“It is becoming clearer that the deal is likely to come through,” said Bidyut Chakrabarty, a professor at the University of Delhi’s political science department. The spurt in inflation and rise in prices “has damaged the UPA beyond repair. It desperately needs instruments that can restore its electoral viability,” he added.
The nuclear deal would appeal to a section of the electorate, just as the Rs60,000 crore farm loan waiver and reservation of seats for candidates of other backward classes in Centrally funded educational institutions had appealed to other sections, the professor said.
The government has clearly cosied up to its Left allies in recent weeks: UPA’s chief interlocutor with the communists, Pranab Mukherjee, first made it clear that the Dalai Lama should not engage in any political activity that could affect China-India relations. The government then made unprecedented security arrangements in New Delhi as the Olympic torch reached the Capital after worldwide protests. The red carpet was then laid out for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, braving US ire.
On Wednesday, the Centre ignored its own expert panel’s report to ban futures trade in more essential commodities, as sought by the Left. The same day saw a rare show of camaraderie between Congress and Left lawmakers during the introduction of the women’s reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
But Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said, “We have opposed the 123 agreement from the very beginning and our stand is that India should not proceed with it.” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the BJP, too, said his party stood opposed to the deal.
Ahead of a 28 May meeting of the UPA-Left panel on the nuclear deal, analysts are even predicting the government might go ahead without Left support. “It is better for the UPA to part ways with the Left over the nuclear deal rather than give them a chance to withdraw support over the rise in prices,” Chakrabarty said.