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Will the real opponents please stand up?

With the Indo-US nuclear deal, we have witnessed, over the last many months, those against it coming up with various conflicting reasons to stop it in its tracks.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2007 20:53 IST

It’s the easiest thing in this world — and especially in this country — to use the tag ‘popular mandate’ to carry across one’s point of view and insist that it is a unanimous decision. The fact that a ‘section of society’ is always rustled up to support sometimes the most retrogressive of ideas and sometimes to block the most progressive ones is something that democratic politics has to deal with. But with the Indo-US nuclear deal, we have witnessed, over the last many months, those against it coming up with various conflicting reasons to stop it in its tracks. Take the bit about Muslims in India being opposed to the deal that was splattered across the media not too long ago. The idea was to point out to the UPA government that if it went ahead with the nuclear deal, it seriously risked the ire of one of its traditional constituencies: the Muslims. And how was the Indian Muslim projected as being against the civilian nuclear deal that is beneficial to India? In a bizarre ‘two-degrees of separation’ logic, it was argued that the United States was the invading force in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby making it a country that waged war against Muslim nations. Thus, India’s Muslims, rallying in support with the global umma, were against the US and thus, any deal that India makes with the superpower.

Convulated logic is nothing rare in politics and so, this form of critique against the India-US nuclear deal should not totally surprise us. But if unnamed sources supposedly representing India’s Muslims can be quoted to scare the government off operationalising the India-US nuclear deal, surely genuine ripostés to such ‘canards’ can be trotted out in its defence. Member of Parliament and All India Majlis-e-Itehadul Musalmeen Asaduddin Oweisi has come out trashing the notion that Muslims in India are against the nuclear deal. For the sake of argument one can consider Mr Oweisi to be just ‘one’ voice representing Muslim distaste against the accord. But we will believe him for two extremely valid reasons. One: his reasoning — “If the deal is good for the country, it is good for the Muslims as well” — is foolproof. Two, we are yet to hear any Muslim leader specifically opposed to the nuclear deal, especially for the anti-US reasons that have been earlier cited.

On the other end lies the BJP, still dancing their version of the Lobster Quadrille with its refrain of “Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?” With Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani first stating that his party wanted the deal ‘re-negotiated’, then saying that it had problems with the deal regarding IAEA regulations and supposed capping on tests, he has again announced this week that the deal has to be reneged. What is going on? At least the Left parties have kept banging their heads against the wall to show their opposition to the deal. With the BJP, the original progenitors of the deal, heads seem to be flying off in the opposite direction of any rational reason. Thank God that the common man has left his judgment on the accord to the experts who know a deal beneficial to the nation when they see one.