US Ambassador David Mulford on Monday met senior BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh — both foreign ministers during the NDA rule — separately to discuss the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Mulford, who had earlier met Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani and BJP president Rajnath Singh to seek support for the deal, discussed details of the 123 Agreement and the Hyde Act, particularly the clauses which the BJP says will compromise India’s foreign and strategic policies.
Sinha said the meeting was on exchanging views on the nuclear issue but did not elaborate. The meetings came a day after Sinha ruled out the BJP’s support unless the Hyde Act and 123 Agreement were changed and features of the deal which were “unacceptable” to his party removed. Sinha had said on Sunday that there was no chance that the BJP could accept the Indo-US nuclear deal, denying that the party was under pressure to do so.
The former external affairs minister told Karan Thapar on the Devil’s Advocate show on CNN-IBN that “we are allowing anyone who wants to explain the advantages of the deal and tell us about it. But as we have understood this deal and the 123 Agreement, I don’t think there is any scope for change in our attitude.”
Sinha said, “It will be wrong to say that we are under pressure. But if American diplomats or former diplomats like Henry Kissinger want to meet BJP leaders and want to explain the deal, it will not be polite on our part to say no. So, we are meeting and listening to them.” Denying that the Americans were trying to armtwist the BJP, Sinha said, “There is no question of that. We are not in the government. What will they get out of armtwisting us?”