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Opposition, UPA allies force adjournments in Rajya Sabha

Special Correspondent

Rare show of solidarity on demand for statement on India- United States nuclear declaration; CPI will not associate with BJP on the issue

  • No intervention by Manmohan in Rajya Sabha
  • CPI will not associate itself with BJP
  • July 18 declaration is the guiding principle: Sharma
  • Yechury calls for statement or declaration

    — PHOTO: PTI

    TOGETHER ON IT: BJP leader Yashwant Sinha (right), Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh (second from right) and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury (second from left) coming out of Parliament on Thursday.

    NEW DELHI: In a rare show of solidarity, the entire Opposition, along with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies — the Left and the Samajwadi Party — on Thursday forced two adjournments in the Rajya Sabha on its demand for a unanimous parliamentary resolution or a statement on the India-U.S. nuclear declaration.

    While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not intervene, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said the Government was committed to the July 18, 2005 declaration between U.S. President George Bush and Dr. Singh, and the March 11, 2006 statement made by the Prime Minister in Parliament.

    This did not satisfy the Opposition members, who insisted on tabling of some kind of unanimous resolution or statement "expressing the sense of the House.'' The All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam also raised the demand.

    However, the Communist Party of India continued to maintain that it would not associate itself with the Bharatiya Janata Party on the issue.

    Fears of dilution

    The issue cropped up during question hour from the supplementaries raised by Maya Singh (BJP), who said there were apprehensions about dilution of India's stand from the July 18, 2005 declaration. She sought a categorical assurance that the country's freedom to have a credible nuclear deterrence would not be compromised by its agreeing to international safeguards

    Mr Sharma said the guiding principle was the framework of the July 18, 2005 declaration and India's Separation Plan. India was committed to continuing its unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing and nothing beyond that. The (civilian and military) separation plan was being worked out in consultation with the nuclear establishment and scientists in a phased manner and a credible nuclear deterrent would be maintained.

    BJP leader Sushma Swaraj sought to know whether the Government would move a parliamentary resolution, assuring the House that the goalposts would not be shifted.

    Mr. Sharma said the Prime Minister had given an assurance and there was no question of "shifting the goalposts." The national interest was the guiding principle, he said, adding unlike the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, the UPA Government kept Parliament and the nation informed of the nuclear pact.

    Sharp exchanges

    His charge that the NDA Government had discussed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without taking Parliament into confidence brought BJP members on their feet. They protested vociferously and Congress members countered them, resulting in sharp exchanges.

    Raising his voice above the din, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury asked for a statement from the Government that reflected the concern of the House.

    "We are not demanding beyond what you've said. Let it be a declaration or statement that reflects the sentiments of the House.''

    He said there were concerns because the goalposts were already shifted.

    The Prime Minister had given the assurance that there would be "reciprocity" but now it was learnt India was being asked to approach the International Atomic Energy Agency for safeguards in perpetuity even before the U.S. Congress ratified the deal.

    In his written reply to Ms. Maya Singh, Mr Sharma said the U.S. Congress was yet to pass the final legislation facilitating civil nuclear energy cooperation.

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