The strong Left reaction has added fuel to the growing opposition to the Indo-US nuclear agreement.
Both the BJP and the United National Progressive Alliance have opposed the bill, saying that it was anti-India. The BJP has given a notice to the Lok Sabha Speaker for a vote on the issue while also asking for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) report on it. “Politically, we think that the Centre would have to take into account all the views opposing the deal,” CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat said.
Karat was addressing a press conference after the Left parties studied “the fineprint” of the deal over five days. Also present at the meet was CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan, CPI RS member D Raja, RSP’s Abani Roy and Forward Bloc’s G Devrajan.
Referring to the Hyde Act, Karat said that it is a “serious problem because the US is bound by its national law.
Successive (US) Presidents could enforce the Act, which gives them the right to issue annual certification (for the Indo-US deal).”
He gave the example of continuous fuel supply clause in the 123 agreement. “There are assurances given in the agreement but if you read the Hyde Act, there is no guarantee of continuity. If fuel supply is stopped, under the Act, the US cannot help India to get fuel from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). The national law of the US will reign supreme,” Karat said.
Congress party spokesman, Abhishek Singhvi, however, tried to allay Left fears. “All legitimate concerns in the national interest have been taken care of. The nation and all supporting parties must share the abiding faith of the PM, the government and the Congress. There has been a single minded pro-India focus. Regarding dual use technology from a totally isolationist phase we have now innumerable items of dual use available for us,” Singhvi said.
Karat added it has also become necessary to review the expanding Indo-US strategic alliance, especially in the defence sector. Opposing the naval exercise slated in the Bay of Bengal in September involving India, US, Japan, Singapore and Australia, Karat said it is an effort to draw India into alliance for commercial purpose. Karat, Bardhan and all other senior Left leaders, would organise a protest rally in Visakhapatnam against the exercise to be held between September 4 and 9. “The rally would be a culmination of two ‘jathas’ beginning from Kolkata and Chennai,” he said.
Karat said that US is keen for a strategic alliance with India because of commercial purposes. ``We are being urged to buy expensive weapons including 126 fighter aircraft, radars and artillery. They also want to sell us nuclear reactors,’’ he said.