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BJP to stick to N-stance, says Advani

“We will press for a debate that ends with a vote but we will not press it to the point that the debate itself is disrupted,” said Advani, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Oct 26, 2007 02:37 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

Mulford-Advani meet

* The US envoy meets Advani after discussions with EAM PranabMukherjee and Foreign Secretary ShivsankarMenon

* The meeting takes place a day US Under Secretary Nicholas Burns said time was running out and India needed to act fast.

* Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated earlier this month to US President George Bush "certain difficulties" in operationalising the deal.

* NDA’s security advisor said he would let the deal go ahead if he is convinced that the country’s strategic weapons programme is safe and intact.

* Advani says BJP stands by its opposition.

Leader of Opposition LK Advani says there is no change in the BJP’s stand on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, which he conveyed to US Ambassador to India David C Mulford who called on him a day ago.

Advani said the BJP stood by its initial assessment that the 123 Agreement and the Hyde Act seriously impaired on India’s nuclear weapons programme and jeopardised its strategic objectives.

Advani also held that the BJP could not accept a situation that resulted not in a strategic partnership but a strategic subservience. India’s foreign policy could not be made congruent to that of the US.

Mulford conveyed to Advani that Washington was keen that India did not back track at this stage and went about in operationalising the deal, which was of “great mutual benefit.”

The American envoy listed the benefits that would accrue to both countries because of increased commerce and lifting of barriers, ending India’s isolation.

Mulford is understood to have also raised the issue of credibility if India is seen as reneging on the agreement – an issue raised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too in his discussions with Cabinet colleagues. The US envoy also felt that the issue was no longer before the diplomats of the two countries but with Indian political leaders.

Advani responded by saying that an issue like the nuclear deal could not be settled expeditiously in the era of coalition governments in India and a consensus could emerge only after a wide debate among the political parties.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi on Thursday spoke to BJP’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha V K Malhotra about the government’s plan to advance the winter session of Parliament to mid-November for an early debate on the nuclear issue.

Asked if the BJP would again insist on a debate that resulted in a vote, Advani told HT that “we will press for a debate that ends with a vote but we will not press it to the point that the debate itself is disrupted.”

The BJP-led NDA and the UNPA had not allowed Parliament’s monsoon session to function, demanding setting up of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to go into the deal instead of a “mechanism” worked out between the government and the Left.

First Published: Oct 25, 2007 20:38 IST