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Manmohan makes no mention of N-deal

india Updated: Aug 22, 2007 17:42 IST

IANS
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh significantly made no mention of the India-US civil nuclear in his Independence Day address in New Delhi on Wednesday, evoking a mixed reaction from the Left leaders. There was also none of the customary reference to neighbours Pakistan that too celebrated 60 years of its independence a day earlier.

The 40-minute speech from the Red Fort saw the prime minister touch upon a wide range of issues, including the need for energy, but there was no mention of the nuclear deal that has become a cause for major political divide in the country.

Foreign policy by itself found little mention in the address that was focussed more on the economy, development, the spirit of democracy and secularism as the cornerstone of the nation and a can-do spirit.

Unlike previous years, there was no headline-grabbing reference to Pakistan in the address. Nor was there any reference to 'cross-border terrorism' - a leitmotif of Independence Day addresses in the past regarding what New Delhi says is promotion of terror directed against India from across the border.

"India wants to have good relations with all the countries of the world. Big and small. Countries of the East and the West, the North and the South. Today, we enjoy good relations with all major powers and all developing countries. We have emerged as a bridge between the many extremes of the world," Singh said.

"I assure all our neighbours that we in India want peace and the best of relations with all of them. I sincerely believe that in the prosperity and well-being of our neighbours lies the key to our own security and progress," the prime minister emphasised.

Even when he spoke of energy and said India needed to generate more electricity and distribute it more efficiently at affordable prices, the prime minister did not touch upon nuclear power, which he has described as environmentally the cleanest.

Left leaders said by leaving the recently sealed nuclear deal with the US out of his speech, Manmohan Singh had upheld the long democratic tradition where no major issue is discussed outside when a parliamentary debate on it is due.

Parliament is expected to see a debate on the subject next week.

"It is in fitness of parliamentary traditions that the prime minister has not referred to this issue. It is a good thing," said Sitaram Yechury, leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

"When crucial matters like these are to come up for discussion in parliament, they should not be discussed in such forums. He (the prime minister) has upheld the dignity of the house," Yechury, a politburo member of the party, told IANS.

AB Bardhan, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), felt the prime minister had nothing to add to what he has already said in the past and that was the reason for his restraint.

"The fact is the prime minister is unable to sell the deal and with nothing else to say on that, there was no point in repeating the same thing again and again," Bardhan said, adding his party would discuss the pact Friday and Saturday.