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US not dictating foreign policy: PM

Manmohan rejects the charge India is buckling under US pressure on Russian reactors, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2007 00:27 IST
Aloke Tikku

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday rejected opposition charges that the US was dictating New Delhi’s foreign policy, saying it was “false” that Delhi backed out of the deal for Russian reactors for Koodankulam or meetings of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation under pressure from Washington.

“I submit that the member is levelling false charges,” Singh said in his first intervention during the discussion on the civilian nuclear pact with the US that critics in the Rajya Sabha projected would impinge on India’s sovereignty.

The BJP had accused him of staying away from two meetings of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation after Delhi was invited to its meetings with an observer status under Washington’s influence. “All that I was interested was that if the Indian prime minister goes to these meetings, he should not sit in the side lounge, coffee lounge and not be involved in an active manner,” Singh said. He intervened twice again to defend his government against charges levelled by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha.

It has always been understood that the agreements for four additional reactors for Koodankulam atomic power project could be operationalised only after India got the approval from IAEA for India-specific safeguards and the exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the PM told the Rajya Sabha when Sinha suggested he returned without signing the agreement under US pressure.

“So the impression that you are giving is false propaganda inside and outside which is not related to the facts of the case,” an unusually combative Singh said.

In the Lok Sabha last week, Singh had taken care not to get involved in a wordy duel with the Left members who tried to tear down the agreement and cautioned Delhi against playing the subordinate ally of the US.

In fact, Singh gave it back to Sinha the third time so hard that the BJP complained that the prime minister was getting “very personal”.
Sinha was blaming the UPA government for bringing the country to a point where its ministers were not taken seriously by other countries and were unable to fix meetings with their counterparts on visits abroad.

Singh retorted that this wasn’t the case now but Sinha was probably going by his experience when he went to Japan as finance minister and wasn’t allowed to meet his counterpart in the host country. "He thinks all people are like him," he taunted Sinha.

On Sinha's reference that Singh was Economic Adviser in the government in which he was the Finance Minister, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad interjected to say that after all Sinha was once “Personal Assistant” to then Bihar CM late Karpoori Thakur. Sinha retorted: "Yes. I was Principal Secretary to Karpoori Thakur when Laluji used to come to my room with recommendations.”