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‘Brajesh echoing Congress view’

Despite Brajesh Mishra’s recent TV interview, BJP says its position against the India-US civilian nuclear deal in its present form has not changed. Shekhar Iyer reports.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2008 03:53 IST
Shekhar Iyer

The BJP on Monday clarified that its position against the India-US civilian nuclear deal in its present form has not changed despite Brajesh Mishra’s recent TV interview where the NDA’s national security adviser demolished the party’s reasons for rejecting the agreement.

Senior leaders Jaswant Singh and Arun Shourie told mediapersons that the former key aide of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was only repeating arguments of the Congress and UPA, which were not convincing enough for the BJP.

Saying they had come to the media to “redefine and clarify” the BJP’s position, Singh and Shourie said they had information that the government was going ahead with the deal next month.

“These are the viewpoints of an individual. The past can never answer for the present. Mishra is free to say whatever he likes,” said Singh, who was NDA’s foreign minister.

Shourie claimed Mishra was party to the meetings of the BJP that decided to oppose the deal — until the one held at Vajpayee’s residence recently.

In that meeting, Mishra came out in support of the deal after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to Vajpayee heaping praise on his leadership but offering no new arguments to back the deal.

“Many of the arguments of Mishra are verbatim arguments given by these high emissaries. It seems he found those arguments acceptable, but the party has not.”

Shourie also claimed that a key government emissary had suggested to BJP leaders — during one of the parleys — that “this was a historic opportunity” for the saffron party and came up with “incredible suggestions” to join hands with the Congress and enable the BJP to occupy a moral high ground and make a name for itself just as Rajiv Gandhi had done with his call for universal disarmament.

“But at no stage has anyone (of the leaders) come to a conclusion that any new facts or any new arguments are given by the government emissaries which warranted any change in the BJP’s stand,” Shourie said.

He said the BJP had information that the government has decided to rush the India-US nuclear deal and is requesting that an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Directors be held in the second week of May, ahead of the May 19 meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Johannesburg.

“The government is only waiting for Parliament to vote on the Finance Bill early next week,” said Shourie. “The government is moving ahead in total disregard of democratic norms.”