IT is not clear if the Left has succeeded in nuking the Indo-US nuclear deal. But the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee indicates that the deal is dead. And his Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh the same day claims that the deal is still alive. UPA has only to blame its timidity for this sorry state of affairs.
The problem is that the UPA is not willing to stake its power to save the deal. This the Left knows better and it is blackmailing the government on every step.
As a coalition government, the UPA has not crowned itself in glory the way it has handled national affairs. Under the UPA India has not been able to leverage its diplomatic status because of the Left leg pulling. The regional super power looks isolated in the region. It has not made friends outside the region. Its position is so weak that it gives the impression of playing the US tune, kowtowing and appeasing China, getting snubbed by Russia, opposing the Iran nuclear adventurism even as it tries to offer an olive branch to that country all at the same time. Has it enhanced India'sstanding on the international level?
The Left is expected to get back on May 28 with its reactions to the government'snegotiations with the IAEA. The government is afraid that time is running out?the US has put a June deadline?and it believes that the safeguards India is likely to get through the 123 agreement are the best India can hope for. But that is not the worry of the Left. It has to take care of the geopolitical interests of China. The CPI(M) has repeatedly shown that its policy approaches are dictated by extra-territorial considerations. And the UPA has become a tool for the CPI(M) shenanigans.
This has greatly eroded the authority of the government. No international treaty could be held hostage to domestic power play in this fashion. India has been made to suffer a major diplomatic loss of face in the last three years because of the unedifying spectre of the government going repeatedly to the Left presidium for explaining every step of the proposed 123 agreement. It also exposes the ineptitude of the present regime in handling major policy initiatives. We have always been cautiously critical of the Indo-US nuclear deal in its present format. It is an unequal treaty. It restricts India'snuclear sovereignty. And India is not getting any solemn assurance from the US or the IAEA that India'scommitment to a credible nuclear deterrent will be taken care of. As the NDA prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani has repeatedly pointed out no country will give in writing surrendering its right to conduct nuclear tests in perpetuity unless it is a client state. In the accompanying piece our expert on this subject has dealt in detail with how the proposed treaty restricts and chains India'sdiplomatic and defence options. India can and should get a better and honestly equal 123 deal. But the UPA has foreclosed this chance by its open stand that the present text of the 123 agreement is the best that India can get.
This is a hugely specious argument. India has always stayed out of the CTBT because of its realisation that a rouge state like Pakistan armed to the teeth with the US and Chinese arms supply and nuclear capability is a threat to India'sterritorial defence and that for peace in the region we have to equip ourselves with a credible defence mechanism. This aspect has always been appreciated by the international community. India has on its own despite sanctions developed a nuclear warhead and conducted two successful tests. But as Shri Advani noted recently, the UPA does not feel proud of this glorious legacy. The government is not celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Pokharan-II nuclear blasts. It is not bothered about the fact that it was Indira Gandhi who took the initiatives to make India a nuclear weapons state and conducted the first Pokharan test. The UPA also did not celebrate the Kargil war victory anniversary earlier. These were defining moments in nation'shistory and in fact the Pokharan-II forced the world to view India with respect.
It is high time Dr. Manmohan Singh either called off the protracted negotiations with the Left or called off the deal instead of making himself an object of ridicule before the comity of nations.