New Delhi: On a day when the buzz intensified in political circles about a compromise between the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left Front on the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, a senior politician familiar with developments in the UPA claimed the government will go ahead with the deal and is willing to explore the option of a “new coalition”.
“Even though we want to go ahead with the deal, we cannot forgo the concerns of the Left (Front) and would like to take them along,” said Veerappa Moily, head of the Congress’ media cell.
The senior politician, who did not wish to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue, said that the contours of the new coalition would emerge over the next two weeks and that M. Karunanidhi, the chief of UPA constituent Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or DMK, would play a central role in this development.
On Monday, the Samajwadi Party, or SP, which had over the weekend indicated that it would support the deal and the government, changed its stance. Senior SP leader Amar Singh, who is at present in the US, told NDTV news channel in an interview that news reports of the SP supporting the Congress were speculative and that any such decision would be taken only after a meeting of the United National Progressive Alliance, or UNPA, a political grouping that includes the Left Front.
Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh (Photo by: Hindustan Times)
The Congress is keen to go ahead with the deal but the Left Front, which supports the government without being part of it, is opposed to this. UPA has 228 members in the Lok Sabha on its own and 287, counting the support of the Left Front. It needs 272 to stay in power.
The SP has 39 members in the Lok Sabha.
A coordination committee of the Left Front and UPA that was set up to discuss the deal is scheduled to meet on 25 June. Sharad Pawar, India’s agriculture minister, leader of another UPA-constituent, the Nationalist Congress Party, or NCP, and a member of the coordination committee, has decided to skip the meeting.
This has triggered some speculation on NCP’s stance, especially after a cover story of the latest issue of Rashtravadi Sankalp, a fortnightly publication from the party, attacked UPA for its failure to contain inflation.
Pawar met with Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat and UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday.
“Pawar is trying to position himself in the good books of the Left since he hasprime ministerial aspirations,” said psephologist and Mint columnist G.V.L. Narasimha Rao. Pawar’s party, which has 11 seats in the Lok Sabha, is the most important constituent of the UPA after LaluPrasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) with 23 seats and Karunanidhi’s DMK with 16 seats.
“These allies are an opportunistic lot. No one has a principled opposition to the deal except the Left Front....,” added Rao, who said that noneof the allies of the Congress wanted early polls.
Apart from Pawar of the NCP, Gandhi also met separately with other allies of the Congress.
RJD leader and railway minister Prasad said after his meeting with Gandhi that “this is not the time for polls but the nuke deal with the US is in national interest”.
A Left Front leader said that if there was a “compromise proposal” the Left was yet to see it. “Where is the compromise proposal?... There is a meeting on the 25th. Let ussee what they have to say then,” said D. Raja, national secretary of the Communist Party of India.