By U. Mahesh Prabhu
Congress led UPA government is in chaos. It is now living amidst fright of loosing its majority in parliament after the row over Indo-US nuclear deal. The intimidation to the Congress, in specific, doesn’t seem to be easing down – in any way. And it is all happening because of Indo-US nuclear deal.
Left’s revulsion to the deal is due to its inborn anti-American sentiments, owing to its Marxist ideology and proclivity towards the Communist China. Samajwadi Party’s certitude to stand by the Congress Party owes to its depreciating popularity Uttar Pradesh, after the surge of Mayawati led BSP. BJP, on the other hand, is now gradually varying its stance towards the covenant. It is all but prepared to set aside its disagreement for ‘certain minor changes’ in the agreement.
The recently held assembly election has established the growing influence of the BJP in the national political scenario. The party is stronger than ever. If the elections are held, ‘saffron party’ is most certain to be voted back to power. This is mostly because: All throughout the rule of the UPA, the BJP has been fed with enough of opportunities to revitalize its ideology and strengthen its propaganda of ‘Hindutva’, through the controversies like that of Ram-Sethu, Negation of the existence of Lord Ram and the recent hullabaloo over leasing of land to Amaranth Shrine Board in J&K.
It’s indeed surprising to observe the ideology of Hindutva gaining momentum in recent times after the catastrophic media publicity against it, especially in the 1990s after the demolition of Babri structure and Godhra riots. That apart, the party has also been smart enough in selling its ideology to the voters, coupled with economic developments. Contrary to this, the Gandhi Socialism of the Congress, Marxist ideology of the CPI (M), Minority Politics of others doesn’t seem to be working. Instead they are today being perceived as ‘bunch of expedient, opportunist, rogues and shady’ political parties by many, if not all.
The drama that is being staged by these allies of the UPA owes more to their despair, than for their ‘commitment’ to ‘national interests’ over the Indo-US nuclear deal. Amidst this chaos it is exceedingly tough to distinguish as to ‘who is genuinely concerned about the interests of this nation?’
On 26th of July 2006 the US House of Representatives permitted a legislation to endorse a ‘ground-breaking’ pact that which permitted the United States to sell civilian nuclear technology to India. This legislation was to revise Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which would make a one-time exception for India to keep its nuclear weapons without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This amendment reversed a 30-year-old US embargo on supplying India with nuclear fuel and technology, implemented after India’s first nuclear test in 1974. As per the amendment, India is to divide its ‘civilian’ and ‘military’ nuclear facilities, and open up civilian facilities for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
This deal turned controversial, internationally, when critics alleged that ‘it would undermine the NPT, which holds that ‘only countries which renounce nuclear weapons would qualify for civilian nuclear assistance’. Some also feared that the accord would send the ‘wrong message’ as it would undercut a US-led campaign to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, and open the way for ‘a potential arms race in South Asia’. They also held that ‘the pact could make bomb making at the other eight facilities easier, as civilian nuclear fuel needs will be met by the US’. Yet, US President George Bush termed the deal essential towards reflecting the countries’ improved relations.
As per the Congress Party ‘India, which relies on 70 per cent its energy needs, will need nuclear power to help feed its rapidly expanding economy.’ Several critics, contrary to this, have held that this deal would not be of much use as India would then be consistently forced to rely on the fuel for nuclear reactor from the Americans and could thus force us to agree to take part in all of the American’s military expeditions, like that of Iraq, the world over.
It is a known fact that US wants to engage India in its global military schemes. India is already a military partner of the US. Since 2001, i.e. from the time of the BJP-led NDA, it has carried out over 40 joint military exercises at sea, land and air, both in US and in India. As per some sources India’s naval liners are already providing escort and security facilities to the American military ships passing through the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean on their way to and from the Pacific through the straits of Malacca in Southeast Asia.
The only raison d’être behind the ongoing joint military drills is that: there are certain plans for joint Indo-American action in future. It is also true that US wants to use India as a bulwark in Asia against the Chinese dragon. This is exactly the reason which is making pro-Chinese CPI (M) furious and raged over the deal.
Another interesting facet of this is also the fact that: Pakistan had sought a similar deal with the US but was refused in March of 2006. But in the field of nuclear cooperation Pakistan has already acquired the support of the China, which has been supportive of the country’s nuclear weapons program since 1980s.
It is true that withdrawal of sanctions, as a part of the deal, will emphatically help India in numerous ways. Most importantly the lifting of sanction will open gates for Indo-US co-operation in lucrative space research and scientific cooperation in many fields which are currently barred to Indians. This is the reason for our eminent scientists, including Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, for favouring the deal.
India’s signing of the deal is sure to bring a tectonic shift in its foreign policy. After signing it India would no longer be a ‘non-aligned’ power and could no more continue to have its own independent foreign policy. India’s Ministry for External Affairs (MEA) would then be forced to follow the order of American Presidents, in several crucial domains of international affairs, for years to come.
Author is Editor-In-Chief of ASEEMAA and Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London.