Nuclear deal under cloud after Congs recent poll debacle

New Delhi, Dec 30 | Updated: Dec 31 2007, 05:13am hrs
Doubts mounted over the fate of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the single largest issue that dominated foreign policy establishment in 2007, in the wake of Congress year-end electoral defeats and the Lefts serious threats over going ahead with it.

The country will be keenly watching the fate of the deal considering the fact that intense bickerings between the government and its Left allies over the last few months have triggered speculation of mid-term polls.

In view of the poll outcome in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, apprehensions are growing that the agreement may not be implemented at all as the Congress-led UPA and Left would not like to heighten confrontation on it as it could lead to their divorce.

This must be perhaps the first international agreement over which the future of the government depends. The ambitious agreement, on which the Manmohan Singh government has put immense stakes, is expected to continue to dominate foreign policy matters in the outgoing year.

The nuclear deal, negotiations for which started in July 2005, was almost done in August when the two countries firmed up the 123 agreement.

But, brakes were immediately applied on the fast-paced process by the Left parties, which rejected the agreement and threatened the government of serious consequences if it went ahead to operationalise it. A face-saving compromise has been evolved in the shape of UPA-Left committee to sort out differences over the deal but given the bitter differences between the partners, the result of the effort will have to be watched out in the coming year.

While the government strove hard to push the agreement with the US, relations with Russia saw a chill, reasons for which are still being assessed. Though the government tried hard to play down the issue, some instances showed that all was not well in the traditionally warm ties between the two friendly countries.