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Most Indians back nuke deal, oppose snap poll

india Updated: Aug 30, 2007 18:01 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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Relax, Prime Minister. People of the country are with you, not with the Left on the nuclear deal with the US. And the best part is, they think you are more patriotic and nationalistic than CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat.

Also, an overwhelming majority of the Indians don’t want a mid-term election, talk of which has gained ground lately with the four Left parties ratcheting up tensions over the deal.

An opinion poll conducted by C fore for the Hindustan Times — in five cities covering 586 respondents — shows that Indians don’t think the deal is unfair to the country, as claimed by the Left parties.

<b1>The UPA, however, should not ignore the Left’s objections. While 49 per cent say that the Left’s stand on the issue is not right, 35 per cent believe that the Left is right.

Here is another one. To a question whether they think the deal brings India “too close” to the US — as is being alleged by the Left — 33 per cent do not think so, 21 do, 16 are unsure and 30 play dead.

The Left parties are more concerned with India turning into an American poodle than with the technical details of the deal — safeguards, moratorium on nuclear tests, etc. “The Left is clear that going ahead with the agreement will bind India to the United States in a manner that will seriously impair an independent foreign policy and our strategic autonomy,” Karat wrote in a signed piece recently. From the survey it seems that the country is listening to the Left but it is not in agreement with it. When asked if Singh should stand his ground, 48 per cent gave a resounding “yes”. However, 37 per cent said no and 15 per cent sounded unsure.

Why aren’t people giving the PM a carte blanche here? In fact, 65 per cent of the respondents believe that the UPA government could have handled the crisis better.

Well, most Indians think they can bat better than Sachin Tendulkar, act better than Amitabh Bachchan and govern better than those they elect to public offices. The poll makes it clear that people believe that the comrades are doing their bit for the country.

But do they think Prakash Karat’s anti-Americanism makes him a better patriot than Manmohan Singh? No. A huge 78 per cent find Singh more patriotic than Karat. This despite the fact that Singh is seen as more pro-US than his predecessors — Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who set the ball rolling on the deal and PV Narasimha Rao, responsible for giving Indo-US relations a much-needed boost. Forty-seven per cent find Singh the most pro-US of the three.

Now, the best part. Most respondents have no clue as to what the nuclear deal is about. Only 48 per cent say that it is about cooperation on nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. A large chunk, 25 per cent to be specific, believe it’s about making nuclear weapons. The rest either have nothing to say or are under the impression that the deal is targeted against Pakistan and or China. So, there you are!