The political temperature on the India-US nuclear deal is hotting up again with parties trying to grapple with the issue.
The Left has decided to adopt a go-slow approach ahead of its meeting with UPA on the issue on May 6. The BJP, which wanted to exploit the differences between the coalition partners, showed itself as a divided house with former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra welcoming the deal and the party dismissing his comments as the “viewpoint of an individual” who has had his innings.
The Congress used the opportunity to hit back at the BJP, gloating over Leader of Opposition LK Advani’s faux pas in claiming that no country has agreed to a ban on nuclear testing.
“Get your facts right,” appeared to be spokesman Abhishek Singhvi’s advice to Advani, noting that the UK, France and US have signed the CTBT and the first two have even ratified it.
To further embarrass the BJP, he quoted Mishra to claim the country’s nuclear deterrence has not been affected; its right to test has not been affected under the 123 Agreement and all plans of the NDA remain undiminished and undiluted.
“Advani should have consulted the NDA’s NSA before commenting on the issue,” he said, alleging the BJP’s “hypocrisy” was evident from the NDA’s willingness to put a moratorium on testing.
While engaged in a slugfest with the BJP, the Congress is trying to scour for middle ground with the Left even as SP’s Amar Singh recently met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee amid speculation that talks were linked to the nuclear deal.
Given the opposition to the deal, Mukherjee adopted a conciliatory tone last week, saying the Constitution does not call for it, the government will take the sense of the House before it is put up for ratification in the US.
The Left, however, is interested in prolonging the talks. Ahead of the May 6 talks, the CPM’s Prakash Karat has written to Mukherjee seeking clarifications on the India-specific draft agreement with the IAEA.
A Left leader told HT : “We don’t want the government to rush the agreement. We have sought clarifications for which they are unlikely to have convincing answers and we are in no hurry to be convinced.”