Sunday, October 14, 2007

More speculation

A day is a long time in politics, and thinking about the brouhaha over the nuclear deal the past day I wonder if did not indulge in wishful thinking in believing that there is a behind-the-scenes deal that has led to the present back-from-the-brink moment.
Many in the Indian media believe that the deal is over and that the Congress has chickened out in the face of pressure from the Left and allies. According to The Times of India

The Congress core group was also significantly influenced by its UPA partners who were not ready for elections. As the Congress's upset win in 2004 was powered in good measure by well-struck alliances, the mood of the allies was taken into account and given due weightage. It also bolstered the unease within Congress over facing elections.

But I am not sure that this is the case and that the Congress has abjectly surrendered and abandoned the deal. One reason for this is the curious timing of the PM and Sonia's remarks. Why at the Hindustan Times event on October 12 ? Why not later, after the next meeting of the Left-UPA committee looking into the deal on October 22 ? Or even later.
Though Indian political parties can sometimes be quite inept in their sense of timing, I think the current moves are tactical and will shift the political and technical timelines a bit downstream, and we may still see an election, not in February as the Congress once wanted, but maybe in April-May or even June-July.
Divining where the technical and political timelines intersect is not an easy task because of the many variables at play. But suffice to say that there is still slack in the technical timeline which could have India going to the IAEA as late as mid-December (and being followed by a formal Left pullout from the UPA). On the other hand, if there is a deal about the deal, as I suggested yesterday, things will look different, though the rift is unlikely to really heal.

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