India's Communist Parties Withdraw Government Support Over US Nuclear DealBy Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi
08 July 2008
In India, a bloc of leftist parties is withdrawing support to the Congress-led coalition to protest the government's decision to go ahead with a controversial civilian nuclear deal with the United States. But as Anjana Pasricha reports, the government is expected to continue in power with the support of a regional party.

The decision by four left-wing and communist parties to take back support from the Congress-led coalition came as no surprise.

It was triggered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that the government will seek approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency "very soon" for a civilian nuclear deal signed with the United States.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Prakash Karat, sits for a media briefing in New Delhi, 08 Jul 2008The head of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash Karat, said in New Delhi that the decision was inevitable in view of the government's decision to press ahead with the deal.

"As you are aware the left parties decided that if the government goes to the IAEA Board of governors, they will withdraw support. In view of the prime minister's announcement, that time has come," he said.

The communist parties strongly oppose the deal, saying it will bring give Washington too much influence over India's foreign policy and nuclear weapons program. They say they will formally withdraw support on Wednesday.

The government, whose term expires next year, does not have a majority in parliament and had depended on the outside support extended by the 59 lawmakers of the leftist parties.

But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently in Japan to attend the G8 summit, says the stability of his government will not be affected by the decision of the leftist parties to walk out.

Manmohan Singh (file photo)The prime minister's confidence is based on a political deal the Congress Party recently struck with a former adversary, the Samajwadi Party.

The Samajwadi Party had earlier opposed the nuclear pact. But its leader, Amar Singh, has now pledged to back the Congress Party.

Singh says all members of parliament in his party will vote to support both the government and the nuclear deal in parliament.

The nuclear deal will give India access to civilian nuclear technology, although it has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The Congress Party has been strongly pitching for the pact, saying it is in national interest and will give India access to nuclear energy to meet its future needs.

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