On the first day of its three-day conclave on Friday, the BJP made it amply clear that it was training its guns on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh alone – and not the Bush administration – on the nuclear deal.
It also became clear that every time there is a blip on the US front over the interpretation of the 123 pact – like US President George Bush’s letter, assuring Congress that the nuclear fuel supply promises to India were “not legally binding” – the BJP will mount an attack.
BJP chief Rajnath Singh told his party leaders in his opening speech on Friday: “We have no complaints against the US. We knew what they wanted. Our grouse is against the UPA government. They did not tell us the truth about the deal.”
And this is the ammunition the BJP is keeping ready and dry as it also solves the problem of taking a position without appearing to have stopped opposing the deal.
Rajnath focused intnetly on Bush’s letter to the US Congress. He said, “Assurances die with men and regimes, binding agreements bind nations. Our testing options appear to have been eliminated.” For the BJP, the issue of sovereignty will remain the core aspect of the nuclear deal.
He said, “The Prime Minister consciously misled the country, all the political parties and Parliament on the issue.” He also wondered whether by agreeing to the terms of the NSG, the country had converted its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing into as multilateral commitment.
After making his views on the nuclear deal clear to party men, Singh attempted to portray himself as the poster boy of the Sangh Parivar.
He raised some new demands – nationalisation of the yatra route, creation of a special area in the Valley for rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits, sedition charges against those who burnt the tri-colour during the recent agitation in the Valley and action against the political parties who had fielded them.
While Rajnath's speech was the main agenda of the first day, the conclave was abuzz with talk that Narendra Modi's speech would be the high point of the second.
His intervention in the discussion on the conclave's political resolution would set the stage for his launch on the national scene.