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India Caucus members are against nuclear deal

For all of you cheering the nuke deal?s fast jog up the Capitol Hill, here's a bit of bad news, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 04:30 IST

For all of you cheering the nuke deal’s fast jog up the Capitol Hill, here's a bit of bad news. The enemy is within. The India Caucus on Capitol Hill -- a part of it anyway -- appears to have closed ranks with NPT hawks giving the Indo-US nuclear deal a tough time.

Ten of the 18 representatives who have tabled or co-sponsored a resolution against the deal are members of the India Caucus -- all Democrats, except for a lone Republican, Fred Upton.

No wonder, sections of Indian supporters currently mobilising support for the nuclear deal feel the Caucus is a cause for worry and embarrassment. 

The House resolution against the nuclear deal has been tabled by Upton in association with Democrat Edward Markey, the most virulent critic of the pact and the legislation to grant India a special waiver. 

Although 18 opponents to the measure in a House of 435 members may not portend a grim scenario, Indian circles concede the need for a step-up in lobbying to ensure that the trend does not catch on in the coming days.

The curious development has prompted at least one Indian activist to wonder if it was time to wind up the caucus. Or, perhaps, stricter admissions standards should be enforced for membership of the caucus, says Ram Narayanan, known for his passion about India-related causes in the US.

India Caucus is among the biggest of its kind on the Hill that boasts of over 180 members. But some observers feel that this size makes it an unwieldy set-up instead of being a source of strength. Quite a few are members of other caucuses as well, including the Pakistan caucus.

The India Caucus was set up in the early 1990s along the lines of the Black Caucus that already existed then in the Congress. The idea was to educate Congress members on the issues concerning India so that the Congress could in turn then question the administration and influence policy.