The NDTV reports:

The Left parties are now trying to consolidate non-Congress and non-BJP forces in their fight against the Indo-US nuclear deal. On Tuesday, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat met UNPA leaders Chandrababu Naidu and Samajwadi party leaders Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh.

Speculation is rife on the motive behind Karat’s quest for an extended Nuclear Family.

This development assumes significance as the Left is seeking to garner a broader opposition against the nuke deal. But according to the Left, as of now, possible voting on the deal in the Parliament has not been discussed

Karat’s move comes on day when the BJP ratcheted up its rhetoric with Arun Jaitley questioning how a “sad and helpless” Prime Minister could lead a “young and resurgent” India.

Offstumped had in August attempted to explain the motives behind Karat’s belligerence. Today’s move by Karat must be seen in the light of that larger strategy. The move also has an interesting sidebar to it. On Monday while the UPA-Left Committee was to meet on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had deflected attention to the ongoing food riots in West Bengal. The CPI-M today returned Singhvi’s favor with these remarks. Placing the blame on the Center’s doorstep, the CPI-M alleged that huge cuts in allocations to the APL (above poverty line) sections by the Central government, bringing it down to just over three per cent in the initial allocation is the real cause.

So what is Karat’s calculation by opening up a channel with the TDP and the SP ?

It is clear from reports of Prime Minister’s mental state that come November there will be a breaking point in the public pretensions. The UPA Government will in all likelihood be face with two choices. The first would require it go public with putting the deal on hold. While this may not be such a bad option for the UPA, Karat is bound to make it one by insisting on a timeline and quite possibly one that leaves no room or window for the current Bush Administration to act on the deal. The insistence on a public timeline will make this a deal breaker leaving the UPA with the second choice. Today’s events confirm that it is the second choice that Karat is rooting for setting the stage for a special Parliament session.

The numbers as they stand in Parliament are stacked against the UPA when it comes to the deal. So clearly the deal itself will not be on vote in Parliament. So if they dont put the deal to vote what will the special session attempt to do ?

This can go one of two ways in Parliament. The optimistic scenario for the UPA would be to seize on the possible opening Brajesh Mishra handed them with a national legislation along the lines of what was originally mooted by LK Advani. With the BJP onboard the UPA Government will be able to push through with the deal but a grave risk to its longevity. With the impending polls in Gujarat the likelihood of this scenario playing out is slim. A more probable twist to this scenario could be where the UPA moots the national legislation but refers it to a JPC thus not actually appear to be siding with the BJP. The BJP might play ball on this one since it was clamoring for a JPC anyway.

The question however is how does Karat stand to gain if this goes the JPC route ?

To answer that we need to re-examine Project Karat. Karat has mainly three objectives in this stand off. The first is to ensure a public snub of the Americans in a manner that is interpreted as “Indian Communists stall American designs”. The second is to ensure that the leverage his party enjoys in shaping the national agenda is not forfeited. Third and less importantly is to ensure  that he is not seen as the one who forced an early election.

A JPC is no assurance of Karat’s first objective unless the proposed national legislation comes with enough riders that make it impossible for the Americans to accept. This is a catch-22 situation for the UPA for it would signal to the Americans that all hope is lost and the JPC a mere ritual to postpone the inevitable. It is this catch-22 that will make the JPC not a viable option unless the JPC itself is another fishing expedition much like the UPA-Left Committee and the UPA takes refuge under the pretense that till the JPC’s findings are incorporated the deal will not be operationalized.

Having been through the “findings” fishing expedition once it is highly unlikely they will have a second go at it if they want to retain any semblance of credibility. This will pave the way to the second scenario in Parliament which meets both of Karat’s other two objectives.

 A third front government with outside support from the Congress to stave off elections.

While many would view this scenario as highly improbable it is in fact the only scenario that has something in it for everyone – kind of the least common denominator for preserving the current Lok Sabha at the cost of the Nuclear Deal. As unpalatable this option maybe to the Congress it gives it a respectable way out of the deal while assuring some sympathy for the Party and the Prime Minister a martyr while allowing Rahul Gandhi to buy time with elections not impending. There is also no loss of face with the Americans with the Government itself having fallen while the Congress retains a semblance of credibility for a future deal having tried its best. Part of the understanding could also be a JPC to keep up the pretense for the American’s sake.

One can already see signs of this with the Congress painting the Prime Minister as a patriot and a martyr.

So Pranab Mukherjee may not have his shot at 7 Race Course but a Yadav or a Naidu might just have an outside chance ……….

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