Sonia was initially against nuclear deal, says book
A new book says Sonia Gandhi was entirely opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal initially and even "reprimanded" the government for signing the joint statement that announced the deal. Varghese K George reports.delhi Updated: Oct 20, 2012 09:09 IST
The ambiguity in Congress's reaction to the Indo-US nuclear deal in the initial days has always been a subject of various interpretations.
But a new book says Sonia Gandhi was entirely opposed to the deal initially and even "reprimanded" the government for signing the July 18, 2005 joint statement that announced the nuclear deal with the United States.
The book, Congress after Indira, by JNU political scientist Zoya Hasan is being published by Oxford University Press and slated for release later this month.
"She reprimanded me for signing the Indo-US joint statement. No sooner had the Indian delegation returned after signing the joint statement she called me over and upbraided me by saying, 'Natwar, what have you gone and done. This deal is not acceptable to most Indians," then external affairs minister Natwar Singh is quoted in the book as telling the author.
Natwar Singh was with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington when the joint statement was signed.
Natwar Singh, however, chose not to join the issue on Friday when HT spoke to him.
"I will speak on it later," he said.
Sonia Gandhi's concerns about the deal had been subject of open debate to only a limited extent.
The book recalls Gandhi's statement at the HT leadership summit in October 2007 where she said the Left's opposition to the nuclear deal "was not unreasonable."
"She did not throw her weight behind the deal until late 2007," says the book, adding that it takes some amount of persuasion by the Prime Minister's foreign policy team.
The book says Natwar Singh was among those Congress leaders who were critical of the strategic embrace with the US, but a previous account of Condoleezza Rice, who was US secretary of states in 2005, had given full credit to him for pushing the deal.
"Natwar was adamant. He wanted the deal, but the Prime Minister wasn't sure he could sell it in New Delhi," said Rice in her 2011 book, No Higher Honor.