If opinion polls are anything to go by, the Left has plenty to worry about. Not just political opponents, people in general seem to have had enough of the Left’s posturing on the nuclear deal. Having used up almost all its ammunition against prime minister Manmohan Singh on the deal, the next target seems to be the Indian ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen. True, Sen could have been a little more diplomatic. But the sum and substance of what he said holds good. Perhaps, the reference to people running around like headless chickens on the issue of the deal could have been phrased more delicately. But Sen who has been on the ground floor all through the negotiations on the deal is right to be exasperated. The manner in which many in our political establishment, notably the Left, has conducted themselves on the deal, betrays lack of confidence and self-respect as the envoy put it. A poll conducted by this newspaper shows in stark relief that the Left’s holier-than-thou attitude has few takers.
Now Messrs Karat and Co. might cry themselves hoarse over how the UPA government has sacrificed the country’s interests but, for the most part, people feel that the prime minister is more patriotic than the worthy Mr Karat. The Left has raised the issue of the deal being one that might impair our independent foreign policy and strategic autonomy. The deal was negotiated in a transparent manner. The Left was very much in the loop on all issues pertaining to the deal. So it is inexplicable as to why it is so upset with the deal all of a sudden. And remarks from such a senior leader as Mr Karat on Mr Sen being an ambassador of US President George Bush shows naivete on the part of the Left. Mr Sen has had a distinguished career and at no point have his patriotic credentials been questioned. In fact, his behind-the-scenes efforts are reported to have pushed the deal through with minimum pain.
The hullabaloo over the deal and the envoy’s remarks will make many wonder if India is really prepared to enter the big league. If the deal collapses owing to all this, can we ever expect anyone, let alone the US, to take India seriously in future? The deal was clear indication that India was no longer being equated with Pakistan or even China in Washington’s gameplan. This is something New Delhi had long sought, irrespective of who was in power. Instead of this mindless criticism, perhaps, the Left could suggest an alternative to the deal that would safeguard India’s energy security.