Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Left divided over nuclear issue

There is hope for the Congress Government as yet. It currently seems to be between a rock and a hard place; if they back down from the nuclear deal under Left pressure, then the Government will have a serious loss of face with future agreements being disputed and maybe rolled back under other such pressures. In addition, internationally the Primer Minister will have a monumental loss of face in the sense that a Treaty, negotiated for a period of 2 years and seemingly which meets the needs of the Government is being held up. In addition, it will tell the Left that the Government will eventually give in with the right amount of pressure. On the other hand, if the Government does decide to go ahead with the nuclear deal, it is very likely that the Left will carry out its threat to withdraw support and leave the Government in a very fragile political environment.
And maybe not. The CPM is divided into 2 sections, with a section representing the central leadership, people in the politburo who don't face Lok Sabha elections (most likely because they would not get elected given their stands on various issues) and the Governments in West Bengal and Kerala who have to face public pressure and ensure that they are seen on the side of development. So far, it has been under-stated that there are differences of opinion between the Central and State leadership, but they have mostly papered over.
However, it seems like the dam is opening up; the collapse of the Central Government will have a major ripple effect on West Bengal (a state that the Communist parties just cannot cannot afford to lose given their 30 year old grip on the state). Currently the Government is seen as pliable, and the opposition in West Bengal is seen as divided; but if the Central Government starts to act tough and aligns with Manta Banerjee in the state, it would give the CPM a strong sense of worry (especially because it is starting to see how development, even though necessary has its own pain). So, maybe some amount of realism from the state side is pushing the West Bengal Chief Minister to make this statement regarding the need for nuclear energy:

West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee created a flutter on Monday by stressing the importance of nuclear power at a time when his party, CPM, is locked in a battle with the Centre over the Indo-US nuclear deal and party bigwigs, like politburo member Sitaram Yechury, are publicly arguing that nuclear power isn't critical and perhaps not even desirable.
Within hours of the CM's remarks, his comrades in Delhi went on an overdrive to paper over the apparent difference between two senior politburo members - Bhattacharjee and Yechury - on nuclear power.

The Chief Minister of Bengal is no paper-weight, he is the leader of the major state for the Left parties and if he starts pushing his weight, he can cause a major disturbance in the current stand of the Left party.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:18 AM