Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For India's sake, Congress must go

by Kanchan Gupta

Ever since the Left broke ranks with the Congress and withdrew its support to the UPA Government after the Prime Minister slyly authorised the circulation of the draft safeguards agreement with the IAEA and made its details public to the world while keeping them a secret from the people of India, a campaign has been launched to portray next Tuesday's trust vote in the Lok Sabha into an up or down vote on the India-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. As always, the Congress is being deceitful: This is not a vote for or against the deal; it is a vote on whether this Government is deserving of Parliament's, and, therefore, the nation's trust. Given the Congress's efforts to stack up numbers in its favours and the Prime Minister's apparent lack of scruples about surviving in office with the help of convicted criminals, it is entirely possible that the Government may win Tuesday's vote. But that will at best be a pyrrhic victory and in no way demonstrate that the charlatans in power enjoy the support of the masses.

Linked to this misleading campaign by the Congress and its drum-beaters is their attempt to portray divisions within the main Opposition, the BJP and the NDA, on the nuclear deal. On Saturday, Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal claimed on television that senior BJP leader LK Advani had endorsed the nuclear deal during a meeting with the Prime Minister last year, and that his opposition to the deal was on account of pressure from some party colleagues. The meeting Mr Sibal has referred to was a classified briefing session with a condition attached to it: Neither the Government nor the BJP was to disclose details of what transpired to the media. Since Mr Sibal has violated the confidentiality clause, it would be in order to place on record that there was no such endorsement; on the contrary, questions raised by Mr Advani and his colleagues who attended the briefing still remain unanswered. It is tempting to disclose further details of what transpired during the briefing session, especially what was said by the Prime Minister, but I shall resist that temptation because to spit and scoot would be tantamount to emulating the Congress's cowardly tactics.

Suffice it to say that within 48 hours of the India-US joint statement of July 18, 2005, delineating the contours of the proposed nuclear deal -- the final draft does not conform to those details and is far more discriminatory than was feared then -- Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, speaking on behalf of the BJP, had registered his unqualified opposition on three basic counts. First, what was being offered by the Americans would, in the short-term, contain India's strategic nuclear deterrence. Second, in the medium-term, it would curb India's strategic nuclear capacity. Third, in the long-term, it would roll back India's strategic nuclear programme.

Three years later, with the unveiling of the Hyde Act, the draft 123 Agreement and the draft safeguards agreement with the IAEA, those apprehensions have been proved to be prophetic. The deal, as it stands today, is not about empowering India, but emasculating our nation. It is not about enabling India to harness the civilian benefits of nuclear energy, but disabling our nation from maintaining a minimum credible deterrence. It is not about ending India's so-called 'isolation', but lumping our nation with nuclear have-nots and bringing us into the non-proliferation regime through the backdoor.

In brief, the stage is being set for us to be denuded of the right to decide for ourselves what is good and in the best interest of the nation, to supplant our national strategic interest by foreign commercial and strategic interests, especially those of the US. If this deal, in its current form, is formalised, we will become a client state requiring approval and endorsement of every move we make to assert our independence and sovereign rights.

The UPA, more so the Congress, is a complicit partner in this elaborate charade to fool the people of this country while surreptitiously replacing India's independent nuclear policy -- including the nation's nuclear strategy and nuclear doctrine -- with one dictated by America. The decades of hard work put in by our scientists, enabling and empowering India to emerge as an equal of the P5, is being sacrificed for 'gains' that remain unexplained. The courage of conviction demonstrated by Mrs Indira Gandhi on May 18, 1974, has now come to be replaced by amoral duplicity.

In the past, India was enslaved by East India Company; our wealth was plundered to feed the British Empire's greed. That unfettered loot was made possible by quislings and turncoats among us who were vulnerable to colonial manipulations. Today, we are on the verge of being indentured to the nuclear neo-colonialism of the 21st century, thanks to quislings and turncoats among us.

It is a fact that the BJP took the initiative to engage the US in a strategic dialogue, but it is also a fact that India was an equal participant and not a supplicant in that dialogue. Unlike the Communists, the BJP believes that a strategic alliance with the US is in India's interest, as much as a strategic alliance with Russia and European powers. Unlike the Congress, the BJP believes that India today has the might and right to be treated as an equal and not as a nation deserving of crumbs from the high table. Hence, the BJP has been consistent in categorically asserting that it will renegotiate the nuclear deal to safeguard India's interests by removing debilitating clauses when it comes to power. Unless this is done, India's interests will be mortgaged irredeemably.

In the debate preceding Tuesday's vote, the BJP should assert these points if it wishes to emerge as a credible alternative to the Congress. But, more importantly, it must strive to expose the despicable politics of the nuclear deal -- the Dr Singh-and-Mr Hyde manner in which it has been 'negotiated'; the shroud of secrecy that continues to hide the implications of rushing into an agreement that is blatantly loaded against India; the attempt to bluff the nation into believing something that is patently untrue; and, the belittling of India's Parliament, and hence its people, not once or twice, but repeatedly.

Never before has a ruling party staked the Government of India to fulfil the 'commitment' of an individual to a foreign Government. In the past, Governments have fallen on account of internal policy issues or realignment of political forces. This is the first time that we are witnessing the impending fall of a Government because the Congress, which has already lost the political authority and moral right to remain in power, by its own admission, would rather have the UPA voted out than fail in keeping the Prime Minister's 'commitment' to the Americans.

India can do without such a Government.

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