NEW DELHI - Reuters
Leftist parties that have provided the Indian government with a parliamentary majority for four years said yesterday they were withdrawing their support in protest against a civilian nuclear deal with the United States.
The parties, which say the deal makes India subservient to Washington, will call for a vote of no confidence in the government. The government believes it will survive the vote, having secured parliamentary support of the regional Samajwadi Party.
The communist parties had said they would withdraw if the government formally approached the International Atomic Energy Agency, the next international step needed to make the delayed deal operational.
On Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the move would come "very soon".
"That time has come," Prakash Karat, head of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), India's biggest communist party, told reporters.
The withdrawal and likely holding of a vote of no confidence will lead to a period of political uncertainty just as the government is grappling with inflation at a 13-year high and signs of an economic slowdown.
The nuclear deal is potentially worth billions of dollars to U.S. and European nuclear supply companies, and would give India more energy alternatives to drive its booming economy.