Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Left opens salvo: Attacks nuclear deal

Things suddenly got more difficult for the Congress. The India-US nuclear agreement is one of the signature agreements signed by the Congress Government, one that took a large amount of complex negotiations, and eventually lead to an agreement where both sides have compromised their positions to some degree. However, upon reading the summary of the agreement released so far, it seems pretty clear that it would have been difficult for Indian to have got a better agreement. To get the US to agree to fight its internal opposition and give India a status of almost a nuclear power, with the promise of cheaper nuclear civil technology for energy generation is really a big deal. For a long time, it has been a corner-stone of US diplomacy to retain the NPT as a way of limiting the nuclear powers of non-nuclear states, and India has always declined to sign the NPT.
With all this, the Congress Government knew that this is a very sensitive deal, bound to provoke an incredible amount of political opposition, much of it to embarrass the Government on the grounds of compromising national security. So, the Congress Government first got the scientists on board and reduced their opposition, and then started to work on the left parties. It is a natural policy for the left to oppose any pact with the US, and to be very suspicious of anything signed with the US. From statements of the past few days, it seemed like they have succeeded, but now things have gone the other way:

The Left parties rejected the landmark nuclear pact between New Delhi and Washington on Tuesday saying it compromised India's sovereignty and imposed US influence.
The fresh opposition by the Left parties comes days after India and the United States unveiled the text of the nuclear pact which will govern nuclear commerce between the two countries if and when it is approved by US Congress.

This is a major setback for the Government. Normally, such stands are a gambit by the left parties, which is slowly overcome by the Government after meetings and negotiations. This enables the left to keep on appealing to its natural constituency of anti-US voters, while at the same time preventing the BJP from gaining ground. If the left sticks to its position, then it is very clear that the Government will be in a sticky position, and will have to expend a lot of political capital to resolve. As always, the left is the Congress supporter aways trying to extract its pound of flesh, maybe in some other policy decisions.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:55 AM