Unwilling to be drawn into further controversy over his statement (including to this newspaper) that India should go ahead and conclude the civil nuclear deal with the United States, former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra said his views were "personal". He did not claim to speak for the BJP or former prime minister AB Vajpayee.
Stung by the volley of criticism that followed his endorsement of the civil nuclear deal, Mishra told HT: "I have always maintained that these are my personal views. I have never criticised the BJP or any of its leaders." However, making the point that like him, his detractors also do not speak for Vajpayee, Mishra said: "I do not presume to speak on behalf of Mr Vajpayee, and, perhaps, nor should anybody else."
Days after he spoke in favour of the nuclear deal and said he did not think it would adversely impact India’s strategic (read nuclear weapons) programme, BJP leaders said Vajpayee differed from Mishra on this issue.
Mishra’s earlier criticism of the deal was instrumental in the BJP formulating its strong opposition to the same that along with the Left parties’ staunch opposition has seen the deal go into deep hibernation.
"My main concern has been India’s strategic nuclear programme," Mishra said in an earlier interview to Rediff. "The Congress, which was in the Opposition at that time, was not very enthusiastic about India’s strategic programme. In fact, in 1998, it criticised the nuclear tests. Obviously, there was suspicion in my mind whether this government is pursuing the strategic programme that we had worked out," he explained his earlier opposition.
"If and when the deal goes through... it will be something very good for India," he added.