(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 13 , 2008
THE Congress leadership has betrayed its commitment to the Left twice over. Firstly, it promised to present the outcome of the talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal. Secondly, it had committed that the government would take into account the findings of the committee before deciding to proceed further.
The refusal to place the text of the Safeguards Agreement before the committee is, thus, a going back from the first promise. It is argued that the text cannot be shown to anyone outside the government. It is a classified document. Without the members of the Board of Governors getting it, how can it be shown to outsiders? This is a specious argument. There is nothing in the rules of the IAEA which require a text to be kept confidential. It is the UPA government which wants it kept under wraps. If the Indian government wants, it can make the draft public.
Another instance of the Manmohan Singh government’s penchant for secrecy on the nuclear deal was seen recently. The US state department had put out the gag order on the clarifications it gave to a list of 40 questions sent to it by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US Congress. These answers are usually unclassified. But the US state department requested the foreign department not to release them to the public. This was done not to embarrass the Indian government whose stand on the implementation of the Hyde Act provisions are being contradicted by the state department.
As it has been pointed out in the statement issued by the Left parties (carrying in these columns), the IAEA can’t give fuel supply assurances, or, set out corrective measures in case of disruption of supply as it is not in the jurisdiction of a regulatory body like the IAEA. If the text had been shown, this fact would have been revealed, making the government’s position untenable. That is why the Congress leadership is reneging on its promise to present the outcome of the negotiations before the committee.
The second issue concerns the scope of the UPA-Left committee. It was set out clearly at the outset that the findings of the committee on the implications of the Hyde Act, on the 123 agreement, on foreign policy and security matters should be arrived at before the government proceeds to take any further step. The examination of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement was also added to the list in November, 2007. If the committee had been able to seriously study the text of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, that would have taken time. Further, arriving at the findings would have also entailed more time. It is well-known that the prime minister is in a hurry to go through with the IAEA Board approval, so that the Americans can take the matter to the Nuclear Supplier Group well before the presidential elections in November. That is why, without providing for the text to be given to the committee, the government wanted to wrap up the proceedings. The findings of the committee were to be given short shift.
This is the manner in which the Congress conducted affairs when it was leading a minority coalition government. The lesson from this episode is obvious. The Congress, as a premier party of the ruling classes, is committed to a strategic collaboration with the United States – regardless of whether it is in the national interests, or, not.