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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 08:53 GMT
India communists wary of election
Prakash Karat of Communist party Of India (Marxist)
Mr Karat says he wants the government to complete its term
A communist ally of India's government does not want early elections despite differences over a landmark nuclear deal with the US, its leader has said.

Prakash Karat, head of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the government should complete its term.

There have been growing signs the government may shelve the deal after communist allies opposed to it threatened to withdraw their support.

Such a move could trigger early general elections in India.

The deal would give India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel even though it has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Left-wing parties in India fear the agreement could give the US too much influence over Indian foreign policy.

US companies, meanwhile, are hoping the deal would pave the way for lucrative contracts in India.

'Integrity unquestioned'

The leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is staunchly opposed to the deal, said his party did not favour early elections.

Our differing view on the agreement does not mean that we do not have respect for the prime minister
Prakash Karat,
Communist Party

"We are also of the view that there should not be early elections and there is no reason why the government should not complete its full term," Mr Karat told The Telegraph newspaper.

He said there had been differences between the communists and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the nuclear agreement.

"We recognise he [Mr Singh] has strong convictions on the soundness and utility of the agreement. Our differing view on the agreement does not mean that we do not have respect for the prime minister," Mr Karat said.

"His integrity is unquestioned."

Mr Karat said the prime minister would not lose his standing if he continued in office by shelving the deal.

"As the prime minister is heading a coalition government without the backing of a parliamentary majority for the deal, his not going ahead despite his firm conviction that it is a good deal will not detract from his stature," he said.

Correspondents say that although Mr Karat's statements did not indicate a softening of the leftists' stand on the deal, it is aimed at dispelling speculation that they have anything personal against Mr Singh.

'Some delay'

Mr Singh said on Monday that the controversial deal was not yet dead, and he was still trying to evolve a consensus.

Manmohan Singh
Mr Singh has described the deal with the US as "historic"

Recent weeks have seen rounds of haggling between India's governing coalition and left-wing parties which support it in parliament.

"There is some delay but we have not reached the end of the road," Mr Singh told a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Indian capital on Monday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also stressed that she wants to move forward on the nuclear deal with India.

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