Saying that he stood by his party's decision to oppose the Indo-US deal in its present form, Leader of Opposition L K Advani has pressed for setting up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to go into the Indo-US nuclear deal instead of a "mechanism" involving only the UPA and the Left leaders.
Addressing a BJP parliamentary party meeting, Advani said the mechanism being worked out between the Congress and the Left would not be acceptable to the BJP as the issue was not a "family affair" of the ruling and supporting parties.
Advani said a mechanism of the JPC already existed in the parliamentary system; therefore the government should refer reservations and doubts of various parties to this body for resolving them instead of creating a new mechanism. Advani denied that his interview at Hyderabad — in which he had demanded amendment of domestic nuclear laws as a counter to the Hyde Act — represented a U-turn by the BJP from its earlier position.
He said his interview was aimed at clarifying how the BJP's opposition to the accord stemmed from pure national interest and not from any kind of anti-Americanism shown by the Left.
Referring to the statements of Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, who have flayed the Hyde Act, Advani said, "Each of the (BJP) statements has been fully deliberated upon and approved by the senior-most leaders of the party under the guidance and presence of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. These statements embody the party's considered view on every aspect of the deal. There is no change in that position."
Advani said he had only sought to emphasise that the provisions of the Hyde Act "seriously impair our nuclear weapons programme, and thereby jeopardise our strategic objectives."
The 123 pact, Advani held, was the first step toward operationalising the Hyde Act and other US laws. It specifically provides that American laws would prevail after implementation of the deal, he said. "These facts are indisputable -- and just as unacceptable. They push the country not into a strategic partnership with the USA but a strategic subservience to it, which the BJP cannot accept."
Advani asked the BJP MPs to press for a constitutional amendment to provide for compulsory approval of the parliament for any international treaty or agreement that impinged upon India's unity, sovereignty and national security.
Asked whether Advani had come under pressure to clarify on his controversial interview, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said Advani wanted to end the confusion created by the "U-turn" headline given to his interview. She said Advani had only brought in an "additionality" to the BJP's stand by demanding amending of domestic nuclear laws, and not caused a change in it. Another BJP spokesman V K Malhotra said the BJP would continue to press in the parliament for re-negotiating the deal.