The Congress is going all out to refute the Left’s charge that the Indo-US nuclear deal will compromise the country’s foreign policy and nuclear programme. The party has come out with a 21-page booklet to inform its members, supporters and the masses of the benefits of the deal for India and the boost it would give development.
The booklet — India’s nuclear energy programme and the 123 agreement with the United States — says the 123 agreement will not harm our nuclear programme or circumscribe foreign policy options since the pact does not mention the US’s Hyde Act in the text. The Act is an enabling law that allows the US to negotiate a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with India. But insofar as India is concerned, her commitment is only to the 123 agreement, the booklet says.
“It is not at the cost of the autonomy of our strategic nuclear programme…It does not affect India’s right to conduct nuclear tests in any manner,’’ it assured, adding that the deal will end technology denial regimes against India, open up avenues of cooperation in civil nuclear energy and usher in an era of a clean and cheap source of energy.
Indicating its stand on the issue is consistent, it recalled that the Congress’s 2004 manifesto has talked of maintaining a credible nuclear weapons programme.
There is also a five page, 13-point FAQ section as a ready reckoner for its leaders to package the deal as a pro-poor and pro-people programme.
“A major challenge before us is to increase the supply of electricity in the country. This will allow every one of our households to be lit;...it will allow our farmers, artisans and workers to use energy as a means for production…it will contribute to industrial development and better infrastructure,’’ it said. Presently, the nuclear sector contributes only 3700mwe; the plan is to hike it to 20,000 mwe by 2020.
“Inadequate information, cynical criticism and partisan policies have hijacked a mature and informed discussion in Parliament,’’ it says.