THE LEFT on Monday joined the chorus against the law passed by the US Congress to facilitate the Indo-US nuclear deal. The government, however, did not seem to be unduly worried by its reaction.
CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said the US law was “unacceptable” as it sought to make India’s foreign policy congruent with the US’s on Iran. He said the issue needed to be debated again in parliament, given Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s August 17 assurances following the questions raised by his party.
“The US legislation has failed to meet India’s concerns. The legislation by saying that India’s foreign policy should be congruent with US foreign policy is attempting to bind India with the US’s strategic interests,’’ Karat said.
Karat said the addition of two new provisions is an attempt to shift “goal posts’’ again. It was earlier said that in case the US fails to fulfil its obligation to supply fuel to India, it would help India arrange alternative fuel supplies from friendly countries. “This is now restricted only under conditions of market failures and does not cover deliberate US termination,’’ he said.
Karat added that the clause which talks of the US helping India build and maintain a strategic fuel reserve has been removed. “The final act explicitly bars any reserve other than normal operating reserves required to run our reactors,’’ he said.
A day earlier, the BJP too had urged the government to opt out of the deal. But sources in the government said the BJP and the Left parties should wait to see what India commits bilaterally in the 123 Agreement with the US. The agreement will be negotiated “within the parameters” laid down by the July 18, 2005 and March 2, 2006 joint statements of the PM and President George Bush.
In fact, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was set to make a statement in both Houses on Monday. But the BJP did not let parliament function over the PM’s remarks on preferential resource allocation for minorities. Mukherjee may speak on Tuesday, sources said.
Before that, however, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will discuss the US law at a meeting with UPA allies. In the evening, the Congress Working Committee will discuss the issue again.
“The 123 Agreement is the crux,” said a senior MEA official. He said the “prescriptive and extraneous” elements in the US law, such as the US’s expectation of New Delhi’s support against Iran’s nuclear programme, cannot be made binding on India.
“All political reactions to domestic US legislation are premature. What matters is the bilateral agreement,” a source in the PMO said.