It ranks as one of the most talked about deals any Indian government has ever struck and for months on end, its various pros and cons have been endlessly debated. Now that the Indo-US nuclear deal is in the bag, guess who is most upset? Not the opposition BJP but the government’s own allies, the Left parties. While the Left has every right to voice concern that the deal pushes India firmly into the US camp, surely these reservations should have been raised earlier. The government, to its credit, has been transparent while negotiating the deal and there is every indication that it sought the opinion of both the Opposition and its own allies. By all accounts, New Delhi has got a decent deal for itself with the US conceding Indian concerns on contentious parts of the agreement. There does not appear, according to most experts, anything to suggest that the deal reduces India to being an unequal partner of the US. What appears to have got the Left’s goat is the clause in the Hyde Act that mentions India joining US efforts in isolating and even imposing sanctions on Iran.
India has made its position on Iran perfectly clear well before the deal was inked. True, the US ambassador has made noises about the undesirability of India strengthening its ties with Iran, but the foreign office has reiterated time and again that New Delhi will follow a pragmatic policy aimed at guarding its own interest. Messrs Karat and Co cannot have been unaware of the clauses in the deal that are now causing them so much anguish. Given the timing of the Left’s public expression of unhappiness, one would be excused for thinking that this has little to do with the deal per se. Rather, it is the Left in its avatar as prime opposition to the government, a role it has played ably since the UPA came to power.
The fact that the BJP is so riven by internal dissension that it has virtually ceded the opposition space to the Left has emboldened the latter. But, at the end of the day, the Left knows fully well that it cannot afford to pull the rug out from under the government’s feet on the nuclear issue. So we can expect that once the atmospherics are played out, the Left will quietly go along with the government on operationalising the deal.