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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NEWDELHI8741
2005-11-17 12:31:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

CONGRESS PUSHES THE LEFT TO MOVE TOWARD COMPROMISE

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  PREL  KNNP  MNUC  IN  IR 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 008741 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/17/2015
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL KNNP MNUC IN IR
SUBJECT: CONGRESS PUSHES THE LEFT TO MOVE TOWARD COMPROMISE
ON THE IRAN/IAEA ISSUE

REF: A. NEW DELHI 8711

B. NEW DELHI 8681

Classified By: Political Counselor Geoff Pyatt, for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)



1. (U) On November 15, Communist leaders from the CPI(M) and
CPI demanded that the GOI reverse its position and vote with
Iran at the November 24 IAEA meeting or "face the
consequences," but left the door open for face-saving
"consultations," (ref A). On November 16, the GOI took
advantage of the opportunity and indicated its interest in
reducing confrontation with the Left on the issue. Congress
President Sonia Gandhi met with CPI(M) politburo member
Sitaram Yechury to arrange for a Congress/Left Front
"coordination meeting" prior to the IAEA meeting to chalk out
a common position, with November 22 the most likely date.
Yechury confirmed to the "Indian Express" that the Communists
were interested in an "out of court settlement." Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh also called his Sikh counterpart and
veteran Communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, whose
daughter enjoyed an expensive bourgeois wedding on November
16, purportedly to prevent a Congress/Left clash when
Parliament reconvenes on November 23. In an apparent sign
that the Communists were reciprocating the Congress gestures,
CPI(M) Parliamentary leaders provided a notice to the speaker
on November 16 requesting only a short discussion of the
Iran/IAEA issue when Parliament reconvenes. The Left had the
option of requesting a full floor debate followed by a vote,
but backed down.



2. (U) While not revealing how the GOI would vote, the
government moved to present a moderate and conciliatory tone.
Saying, "I will not go into a hypothetical situation, let us
see whether there is going to be a vote or not," Foreign
Secretary Saran maintained that India's "stance will be

SIPDIS
determined by what are the contents of the resolution," while
emphasizing that it "will be in accordance with the national
interest." GOI Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan
Dasmunshi also backtracked from earlier confrontational
statements condemning the Left for its "pressure tactics" and
struck a conciliatory tone, emphasizing that the UPA would
"not disappoint" any of its allies if the Iran issue came to
a vote.



3. (U) The BJP has not been able to formulate a position on
the IAEA vote, allowing the LF to play the role of the
opposition on this issue. In order to clear up the
confusion, the BJP leadership plans to meet November 17 and
determine its stance. Early indications are that the BJP
will also be critical, as BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra
took the UPA to task for not taking all political parties
into confidence before the September 24 IAEA vote.



4. (C) In a November 17 conversation with PolCouns, PMO
Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru expressed great anxiety about the
prospect of an Iran vote at the IAEA, and underlined his hope
that this might be avoided. He remarked that "for the next
four months India's politics will be about Kerala and West
Bengal," and insisted that the Left parties have chosen to
use foreign policy as a wedge issue to attack Congress in
those states. He acknowledged PolCoun's point that Iran is
making the PM's job easier by behaving unreasonably vis-a-vis
the EU-3. Nonetheless, he warned, with the Left parties
appealing to the Congress base in West Bengal and Kerala, the
GOI will have to weigh the political consequences of another
IAEA vote.

Comment - Ambiguity for Now


--------------------------





5. (C) The Congress effort at reconciliation with the LF
comes as no surprise. Stung by the intense criticism
engendered by the IAEA vote, Congress has no interest in
further confrontation. The Communists are interested in
scoring easy political points, but not in a
Communist/Congress battle on the floor of Parliament that
would endanger UPA stability and benefit the BJP. While both
groups may be ready to step back from the brink, the issue
could become explosive should the GOI again feel compelled to
back an IAEA resolution that the LF deems to be too harsh on
Iran and too conciliatory towards the US. This would be
especially true if the GOI takes such a move without first
consulting the LF and its UPA allies. Nothing would please
the UPA more than if the US, EU, and others avoided a vote on
November 24.
BLAKE