Beyond the wheeling-dealing
Amid the political cacophony ever since the Indo-US nuclear deal was signed, many of us have forgotten which terms in it benefit India and which do not. The simple truth is that the deal, as it stands, is good for both countries and nothing in it can or needs to be changed. India should ratify the deal for its own reasons. And this is the line the UPA government should have pursued more aggressively from the beginning. The worth of the deal and its potential to project India as a global big boy are seen from the BJP’s change of heart.
When the deal was first struck, the BJP rejected it outright. It then realised that it was the BJP that had been the deal’s architect in the first place. To save face, it demanded the agreement be renegotiated and a joint parliamentary commission be set up, knowing full well that both options were unfeasible. Now, sensing that it has been left totally out of the picture as the Left and the Congress slug it out, it says that the deal should go through, providing it does not compromise India’s nuclear weapons’ programme. A debate, says the suddenly reasonable Opposition, is what it wants to ensure that the agreement is one between equals. Earlier, many had wondered what exactly the BJP was objecting to in the deal. The party itself had no answers. Not that the Left has been able to come up with too many credible arguments. Since we don’t seem to be able to make up our minds on the deal, the Americans have moved into high gear on winning friends and influencing people in India. So we have US Ambassador David Mulford calling on LK Advani, former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra and BJP president Rajnath Singh. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson hot-footed it to Kolkata to engage CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. And we have Henry Kissinger in town. The burden of their song is that the US has bent over backwards on this deal, and there is merit in it.
It is, from India’s angle, one of the biggest deals ever negotiated. To go back on it will not send India back into total isolation, but it will certainly impact on our credibility as a global partner.