Monday, July 21, 2008

Nitish says govt's fall imminent, Lalu & Paswan disagree

The last speaker in today's Lok Sabha debate Prabhunath Singh of the Janata Dal (United) raised stark questions about Prime Minister's personality and his deeds rattled the Congress led United Progressive members. He alleged that central government is discriminating against Bihar.

Earlier taking part in the trust vote debate on behalf of the CPI(M), Lok Sabha member Mohammad Salim accused the UPA government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of betraying the Left parties who had supported the government for over four years. He even accused the PM of being a dealer and not a leader who was only concerned about the nuclear deal with the US.

A dealer only looks at the deal, whereas a leader looks at the deal, its history as well as its future implications and other consequences, Salim said, adding the deal should not be between two people, but between two countries.

Rebutting the UPA's charge of Left betraying the government, Salim said it was infact the PM who had betrayed the Left parties. Referring to the Prime Minister thanking Left leaders Jyoti Basu and Harkishen Surjeet in his opening speech while moving the confidence motion, Salim said the Left did not support the government for appreciation.

We didn't support the UPA to be conferred with a certificate of patriotism after four years. We supported the government based on the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), he told the House.

Accusing the government of not following the CMP, Salim said the Left parties had constantly been warning the Congress and its allies not to divert from the principles on which the UPA was put together. �The CMP wasn�t prepared by Left parties, but by UPA allies; we only endorsed them,� he said.

And the nuclear deal and firming up of relations with the US were not part of the CMP, the CPI(M) MP from the Calcutta-Northeast (West Bengal) constituency noted further.

We gave them a debit card but they kept on overdrawing. Probably (US President George) Bush asked them to do so. The CMP wasn't prepared in consultation with Bush, it was done with UPA constituents, Salim said.

Reminding the Congress that it came to power with the outside support of Left parties after failing to get two-thirds majority, Salim said that the UPA should remember that the NDA was defeated because people were not happy with the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and its policies.

Claiming that several leaders of the Congress had no link with the party's past, Salim recalled speeches made by former PMs Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi in which they clearly stated India's pro-NAM stand.

Referring to those who have been claiming that the nuclear deal with the US is in national interest, Salim sought to ask why should India�s interest be decided on the basis of what the US dictates.

The government earlier said the deal was important as the PM had made a personal commitment. It later said the deal was in national interest; now it is about who will get which post in the government. Is this what national interest is?. I don't buy this. The nation is watching, an angry Salim said.

He further accused the government of ignoring all pressing problems the country was facing in the wake of the nuke deal controversy.

The Prime Minister met regional newspaper editors recently and he was asked why inflation is going up. The PM candidly told the editors that the government was busy sorting out the political problems related to the nuke deal and the IAEA safeguards agreement that it couldn't focus on other issues, the CPI(M) member informed the House.

He accused the Prime Minister of having another CMP and added the House, Left parties and the country were not bound by that CMP.

Turning to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is the president of the BCCI, Salim said that after the IPL got over, a dope test conducted by WADA revealed that a player had tested positive for drugs. He then asked the minister to get the government's dope test done before going to Vienna to find out why it was running so fast� (on the nuclear deal).

Taking a shot at LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Salim said the former minister was first part of the NDA government and then joined the UPA. But why he is bringing the BJP policy (of looking up to the US) to UPA, he asked.

He also noted that the scientists who had made India self-reliant in nuclear energy had asked the Prime Minister not to proceed with the deal.

He further accused the US of trying to sell nuclear energy to India, which the world was not embracing. To back his claim, Salim referred to the projection made in the Annual Energy Outlook 2008 that by 2030, the world�s nuclear energy will stand at 7.8%, compared to 9.6% in 2005.

The CPI(M) MP claimed that the government had outsourced diplomacy work to the US whose officials like William Burns were taking decisions on behalf of India at the IAEA.

Concluding his speech, Salim asked the government not to depend on Bush, but instead on the Indian people.

Terming the Indo-US nuclear deal as anti-people, noted social activists today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to scrap it with immediate effect.

"The Indo-US nuclear deal is patently anti-people and will make India a strategic ally of American Imperialism in South Asia to impose its hegemony over Asia," they said in an open letter to the Prime Minister.

The signing of the Henry Hyde Act in December 2006 is logical interference of the content of the Act legally making India a junior ally of the US Imperialism, "confiscating and trunacating our hard earned sovereignty", they added.

"We therefore demand that the Indo-US nuclear deal be scrapped with immediate effect and the ongoing talks between IAEA should be called off immediately," the letter said.

Terming the deal "an outrageous instrument of recolonisation of India and Third world", they said when the deal comes through, it will grievously undermine the current global regime of the nuclear non-proliferation in gross violation of underlying principles of nuclear peace, workers, environment and women's movement.

They also rejected the proposition that the deal will enhance India's energy security and said nuclear energy is "prohibitively costly and intrinsically hazardous" and will distort India's effort towards cheaper renewable energy sources.

They suggested Singh that since India stands very low on human development index, instead of spending on costly nuclear power it should invest in the field of health, education, food security, rural and urban development.

Even though the outcome of numbers game during the July 22 trust vote appears too close to predict, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the the UPA government's defeat in the floor test is imminent.

"The Manmohan Singh government's defeat in the trial of strength is imminent and the stony silence being maintained by usually-blustering union ministers from the state points in that direction," he said.

Kumar returned here after attending a meeting of NDA chief ministers in Delhi where they mulled over the strategy to pull down the UPA government.

"Now that it is clear that the government will not survive, the 'bayan bahadurs' (leaders thriving on statements) RJD ministers from Bihar have suddenly stopped making unsavoury remarks aginst me and my government."

He charged the UPA ministers, particularly those from RJD, with not cooperating with the state government in execution of several development schemes and said the NDA will make it an election issue.

"We will go the electorate with facts and figures and seek their support to bring the NDA to power at the Centre if they want their problems to be solved," he said.

Referring to the Indo-US nuclear deal, Kumar said the Centre should suspend and keep in abeyance all further action till it has proved its majority in the Lok Sabha.

Lok Janshakti Party leader and Central Minister Ramvilas Paswan has given a vote of confidence to the Congress-led government saying it was sure to win the trust motion in Parliament and that the India-US nuclear deal was "essential for development".

After Railway Minister Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal verbalised his confidence that the Manmohan Singh government would survive the trust vote. Paswan has been doing the same in public functions in Bihar.

Paswan, a key member of the United Progressive Alliance with four MPs in the Lok Sabha, said the UPA would win the confidence vote as it has the support of "old and new allies".

The Steel, Chemical and Fertilisers Minister, who has been addressing gatherings in Jehanabad, Bhojpur and Patna districts said: "The nuclear deal agreement is essential for the development of the country. All those opposing it are not interested in the country's development."

Without naming the Left parties, which withdrew support to the UPA, or the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Paswan said: "It is baseless that India will become a slave of America after the nuclear deal."

He said it would pave the way for electricity in every household across the country, similar to the cell phone revolution.

Nationalist Congress Party general secretary Tariq Anwar echoed Paswan.

Expressing confidence that the UPA would pull through July 22, he said new allies like the Samajwadi Party and other smaller parties would fill the gap caused by the Left withdrawal.

"The nuclear deal has got the support of a majority of people in the country," said Anwar, whose party has 11 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

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