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Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 17:50 UK

Singh 'agreed Left nuclear deal'

Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh argued the nuclear deal was historic

Indian PM Manmohan Singh was ready to let the Left take credit for a final version of the controversial US nuclear deal, his ex-media adviser says.

Sajaya Baru told the BBC the prime minister agreed "in the interests of the nation" to allow the Left to say they had forced a better deal.

But hardline left-wingers scuppered the compromise, Mr Baru said, and the Left withdrew from the ruling coalition.

A senior communist said he was unaware of any such proposal from Mr Singh.

"Must be someone acting on their own," Prakash Karat, who heads the Communist Party of India (Marxist), told the BBC. Mr Karat was a staunch opponent of the nuclear accord.

'Compromise formula'

Mr Baru said the PM was a "genius of consensual policy making".

But he said his job as media adviser was difficult on occasions as Mr Singh would let others take credit for his decisions as PM.

His consensual style gives the impression that he is willing to be pushed around
Sanjaya Baru

"He would not want me to share with the media how a particular decision of the government was in fact his and not that of someone else who may be claiming, or just being given, the credit for it," Mr Baru said.

He said one of those occasions was the US civilian nuclear deal that led to the Left withdrawing support from Mr Singh's Congress-led coalition.

Mr Baru said a senior left-wing leader had put forward the compromise that would suggest the Left had "helped secure a better outcome than what the prime minister was capable of securing from the Americans".

Prakash Karat
Communist leader Prakash Karat led opposition to the deal

"Clearly, Singh was willing to stoop to conquer," Mr Baru said.

But the "compromise formula was rejected by the hardliners", Mr Baru said, and Mr Singh "had no option but to show the iron fist in his velvet glove".

Mr Baru said Mr Singh always worked through "patient consultation" and got his way "more often than not".

This meant that "decision-making takes time and tough decisions don't always get taken", but Mr Baru said Mr Singh's "style of functioning reflects the genius of consensual policy making in the era of coalitions".

Mr Baru also spoke of the time Mr Singh visited Indian-administered Kashmir in April 2005 to flag off the first bus service across the Line of Control from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

A militant attack on a tourist complex in Srinagar led Mr Singh's advisers to urge him to call off the trip.

Mr Baru said: "The PM was tired and looked deeply worried. The TV in the room was on with visuals of the day's destruction in Srinagar. We stared at the TV without a word.

"After what seemed like ages he spoke. 'I will go,' he said, and asked his [private secretary] to connect him to [Congress President Sonia] Gandhi. 'I don't want to postpone tomorrow's programme,' he told her, 'I will go.' She agreed, and said she would go too."



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