The Indian government's communist allies warned Saturday of "serious consequences" if New Delhi went ahead with a landmark nuclear deal with the United States.
The thinly veiled threat alarmed the ruling Congress party, prompting it to call an emergency meeting of its leaders later on Saturday. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) Prakash Karat said after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Indian capital not to take any further step in the deal. He told reporters that the government should not proceed further until all doubts and apprehensions about the agreement are evaluated.
The face-off widens the chasm between the ruling Congress coalition and the four leftist groups which prop it up in parliament. However, the communists stopped short of specifically threatening to withdraw support from the Congress-led coalition government, which would reduce it to a minority administration.
The controversial agreement promises to offer long-denied Western nuclear technology to energy-starved India, where existing atomic facilities account for just three percent of its total power output.