Leader of Opposition LK Advani's statement that his party has no objection to the 123 Agreement if the government amends the Indian Atomic Energy Act to ensure strategic independence and smooth reactor fuel supplies is not a turnaround, say the BJP leaders.
They say it is merely a reiteration of the BJP's line that the deal should be re-negotiated to take care of India's right to conduct tests and decide its strategic interests.
BJP's deputy leader in Lok Sabha VK Malhotra said, "Advani has only said what we have been saying in the Parliament and outside — that the deal needs to be re-negotiated. We are not opposing the deal out of anti-Americanism."
A senior BJP general secretary denied that Advani's statement was caused by the pressure on the BJP from pro-deal lobby.
Malhotra said the party's line was that India's freedom must not be curbed in any manner by a law of another country. "Our apprehension on account of the Hyde Act is largely because it is India-specific."
The BJP’s stand on the nuclear issue has been firmed up by former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie after meetings with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is believed that many senior BJP leaders privately do not oppose the deal.
Some BJP leaders, considered friendly to the industry, are also against the party opposing the deal. They say the party could not afford to antagonise the middle class that wants more avenues between the two countries. However, the RSS strongly opposing the deal and even praising the Left for its stand may be problematic for the party.