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Domestic politics will remain a factor

Though the government is happy that US President Barack Obama has backed India’s claim for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the whole gamut of issues related to it will be subjected to the tough test of domestic politics.

delhi Updated: Nov 09, 2010 23:18 IST
Jayanth Jacob

Though the government is happy that US President Barack Obama has backed India’s claim for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the whole gamut of issues related to it will be subjected to the tough test of domestic politics.

Expect more of it in the coming days, and external affairs minister SM Krishna is set to make a suo motu statement on the Obama visit in Parliament.

The opposition is seeing Obama’s prodding on Iran to Myanmar to human rights as instruments of getting India to fall in line with the US in international affairs.

“Obama snubbed India's foreign policy towards Iran and Myanmar during his address in Parliament and the government did not react to it at all. The government could have spoken on the issue on Tuesday but lacks the capability to give quick responses,” a senior BJP leader said.

The Left agrees.

A statement from the CPI(M) politburo on the Obama visit said: “India can become a permanent member of the Security Council when the United Nations structure is democratised on the basis of its independent role and influence in world affairs. Endorsement by the United States should not amount to toeing its strategic interests.”

CPI national secretary D Raja says Obama omitted issues on which India has a stand different from that of the US. “The economic blockade in Cuba, the Palestine question — the US President avoided them all,” he said.

But the government sees it’s a matter of perception. Foreign policy is dictated by a series of factors, and the US cannot dictate terms to India.

“That’s how friends talk — both pleasant and unpleasant things. There are agreements as well as disagreements,” a source said.

On Iran, sources say there is nothing new in India’s position. “Iran is an important neighbour. But we have also maintained when it comes to its nuclear programme, being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has to abide by it. Our stand at the International Atomic Energy Agency (where India voted against) was that of the majority,” a source added.

“Obama said not look east, but 'engage east', Myanmar is the first country in the east,” a source pointed out. Anything that upsets Myanmar, which has a 1,600-km boundary with India, is a sensitive issue here.