(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 27 , 2008
Mohd Salim’s Speech in Lok Sabha
Save The Nation From
The Deal And The ‘Dealers’
(Excerpts from the speech delivered by CPI(M) deputy leader in Lok Sabha Mohd Salim while participating in the discussion on confidence motion on July 21, 2008)
THE question is whether the prime minister has come to this house to ask this august house to express trust on him or to get the support for the betrayal that he did to the parties who have extended him support for the last four years and two months.
The question is not of trust but betrayal of trust. And further it is a question of the trust worthiness. I thank the prime minister and the UPA chairperson Mrs Sonia Gandhi for thanking the Left for supporting the UPA government for the last four and a half years and for the role Surjeet and Jyoti Basu played in its creation. The prime minister while going to Japan said Leftists are patriots. We did not support them for this certificate after four and a half years. We supported them on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme. From the last four years our leadership both inside and outside parliament has been advising the UPA not to derail from the path of the Common Minimum Programme. This programme was drafted by the Congress and the other supporting parties of the UPA and we endorsed it. I have talked of betrayal because nuclear deal, IAEA safeguard agreement, strategic relations with the US, defence agreement and toeing the US line in our foreign policy has not been mentioned in any of the clauses of the Common Minimum Programme. We had given you a debit card and you as a banker do know that you cannot overdraw on it. We continuously warned you that you are overdrawing but president Bush gave you permission to overdraw. The Common Minimum Programme was not negotiated with president Bush. The government came into existence in May 2004 and the CMP was drawn up with the Left. We thank the members of the UPA for this. Bu the Common Minimum Programme was not for partnership with US.
Those who are co-passengers in a boat do ask the boatman whether he will abandon them midstream. The communal elements of the BJP-RSS coalition managed a government for six years in the country but in the 2004 election that government was defeated. But this was not a mandate for the Congress. Otherwise they would have given you a two-third majority.
While people of India did not want NDA, they also did not want a replacement following the same policies. The Congress along with all the parties of the UPA – DMK, RJD, LJP and others – does not have a majority on its own. We decided to support from the outside on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme. Knowing fully well that we have serious disagreement with Congress on several economic polices which increases disparity among the rich and poor, this agreement on the CMP with Congress was made because Congress has history from Gandhi to Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi, who talked of disarmament and independent foreign policy.
I know there is a section in the Congress which does not like its own history. A lot of people thought that the disagreement between the Left and UPA will come on economic policy – whether on disinvestment, or price rise. We had hoped that it will not come on issues of foreign policy because it is our common heritage. Since the year 1857, the 150th anniversary we have just celebrated, our countrymen have fought for freedom in which workers, peasants all have played a role rising above the religious and caste divisions. The Congress played a role in creating an independent nation which will play a role in the comity of nations. On the issue of non-alignment, I will quote the speeches of Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi. In Harare in 1986, Ragiv Gandhi as prime minister had said that the history of our national movement enjoins upon us that we do not join any camp. Today we are formulating our foreign policy on the basis of ‘enlightened national interest’. We do not understand what this enlightenment is. Why are we being forced to see our self interest in the light of being thrown from Washington?
The prime minister has said that he is committed to the welfare of 112 crore people of our country. The Common Minimum Programme which was drafted for the welfare of our people with the involvement of Sharad Pawar, Karunanidhi and Lalu Yadav and whose architects were Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet had laid down six basic principles of governance.
It says “To preserve, protect and promote social harmony and to enforce the law without fear or favour to deal with all obscurantist and fundamentalist elements who seek to distrust social amity and peace.” This was to combat religions and caste divisions – like the ones that are sought to be created around Amarnath pilgrimage or Gujarat carnage.
“To ensure that the economy grows at least seven to eight per cent per year in a sustained manner over a decade…” “…..and more and more and in a manner that generates employment….” “…..so that each family is assured of safe and viable livelihood.” This gives a lie to the charge that we do not want growth
“To ensure the welfare and well-being of farmers, farm labour sand workers…” “…..particularly those in the unorganised sector and assure a secure future for their families in every respect…”
“To fully empower women politically, educationally, economically and legally.”
“To provide for full equality of opportunity particularly in education and employment for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and religious minorities.”
“To unleash the creative energies of our entrepreneurs, businessmen, scientists, engineers and all other professions and productive forces of society.” In all we have no objection and have put no obstruction.
We have supported this government for the last four years on the basis of these six principles. The crisis because of which inflation is touching 12 per cent now is not being tackled because the government is busy with the 123 agreement.
So, the government was installed, supported on the basis of a common programme. The prime minister is dragging you to an ‘uncommon’ programme. The government was there for four years plus on the basis of a minimum programme. The prime minister is taking you to a ‘maximum’ programme. I am not bound by that; the CPI(M) is not bound by that; the Left is not bound by that; the House is not bound by that and the nation is not bound by that.
We are being accused of being unfaithful, we want to know how faithful are you for the commitment to common minimum programme. We are being advised to give up the common minimum programme and talk of the nuclear deal. Since July 2005, the majority in both houses of parliament has not been in favour of the deal.
We were then assured that all the apprehensions in relation to the deal will be sorted out. We said that a consensus should be created, the foreign policy with its origins in the national movement should not be abandoned.
As far as price rise is concerned, we had suggested that forward trading should be stopped. They kept saying they have constituted a committee and will act on its recommendations; they constituted an interministerial committee but did nothing.
The prime minister said while in flight for Japan ‘We will go soon to IAEA.” While on November 16, Pranab Mukherjee had said “The government will proceed with the talks and the outcome will be presented to the committee for its consideration before it finalises its findings.” Till now, the outcome of the talks, that is, the safeguard agreement negotiated with the IAEA secretariat had not been made available to the committee.
When we were waiting for the government’s response, when different ministers were speaking in different voices, Pranab Mukherjee wrote to us ‘The next meeting of the UPA-Left Committee on Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation will be held on 10 July, 2008 at 1600 hours at 13, Talkatora Road.”
The government was acting in a totally haphazard manner. When we asked for the documents before finalising the recommendations of the committee we were told this is classified, technical and top secret. We wanted to know what are the implications of the Hyde Act, what is the safeguard agreement, what about the energy security, what will be cost of nuclear power?
It is not a matter of mere electoral promises, we have to know the cost of per unit of energy, what about fuel supply; what are the terms of discontinuation. It is like jumping from a plane with a parachute which has a hole.
First it was said than the nuclear deal is a matter of international prestige because the prime minister is committed to president Bush so it should be accepted. Later it was said that the deal is in the interest of the country. Now the deal is being finalised on the basis of political situation in different states, disbursement of office, ministerial positions and appointment of CBI director. And all this is being done in the name of enlightened self interest. Sorry, the Left has refused to buy this theory. The whole country is witnessing in whose interest the deal is being done.
Why is the whole thing shrouded in secrecy? Although it was being examined in American Senate, there was a gag order for Indian parliament. When it was being discussed it was said, “The administration’s unwillingness to make their answers more widely available suggests they have something to hide from either US or Indian legislators” said Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association.” We are the legislators. Even though the answers are not classified, because officials fear that public disclosure would torpedo the deal, that is why it is kept as secret.
Several questions were being raised there but Indian parliament is being kept in dark. Over there the situation was follows. “We have handled answers to sensitive questions in an appropriate way that responded to congressional concerns.” “Lynne Weil, a spokeswoman for the Committee said the State Department provided a lot of information, but the Committee has agreed not to disclose the answers because some data might be concerned diplomatically sensitive.”
They have not told us till now and want us to put signatures on it. BJP does want to have strategic relations with the US that is being talked about. We have differences with them. The baby you are going to deliver was actually conceived by them (BJP). Utilising the atmosphere generated by the so-called ‘war on terror’ the BJP had said that there is an opportunity to get into a long term alliance with the US. All those who were with the BJP during the NDA regime and have now left them seem to have brought their policies to the UPA. It you want to implement the NDA policies, then what is the need for our support.
We do not want communalism in the country. And we think that by succumbing to imperialist pressures, we cannot fight communalism. This applies to both of them. Therefore a third way has to be found which will combat communalism as well as imperialist conspiracies and the wrong policies. The UPA thought that it was our compulsion to keep supporting them to thwart BJP irrespective of the mounting problems of the people and huge inflation. You have not undertaken any serious measures to fight communalism. In the wake of the demolition of Babri Masjid, the Liberhan Commission was constituted which has been given extension 46 times. The Home minister Shivraj Patil had in response to my question in this house had said last time that that was the last extension, but yet another extension has been granted. The public opinion in the country wanted you to take action against the Modi government, but you did not take a single step. You are using the CBI for political gains. Different commissions, the victims of the riots and even the Supreme Court wanted you take some steps against the Modi government but you have not moved. In these circumstances you cannot combat communalism in Punjab, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal. The Sri Krishna Commission report which enquired into the Bombay riots of 1992-93 has not been acted upon despite there being a NCP-Congress government. You cannot combat communalism by soft communalism. You have to combat communalism ideologically. But when we talk of ideology, a bogey of Leftists being outdated is raised. The role of ideology is totally negated and politics of bargaining is being practiced. With bargaining, communalism cannot be fought. In several states, MLAs are bought and unstable governments are formed which do not have much utility.
I want to assert that the claim that the nuclear deal is to obtain electricity is false. Several scientists of the country including the former director of Bhabha Atomic Research Institute and former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission who had made a great contribution in making us self reliant in the matter of nuclear energy are urging this government and the prime minister not to proceed with this deal.
When the country is being bound for forty years, the deal can be discussed at least for forty hours. The country should know what is in the deal. Nuclear scientists including P K Iyengar, A Gopalakrishnan, and A N Prasad have written a letter discussing the safeguards agreement and have urged the government “do not proceed”. When they had met the prime minister, they were told that we are committed to president Bush. The deal is being done in secrecy and great hurry because it has to be finalised before president Bush’s term expires.
The deal is not between two persons it is between two nations. We will have to seek a certificate from US for our energy. We are binding ourselves for forty years.
An American organisation, International Atomic Energy Authority, in its current report of annual energy outlook for 2008 has outlined the energy situation till 2030. The Energy Information Administration, office of the Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, US Department of Energy says that in the year 2005, the share of nuclear energy in the world was 9.8 per cent. In the year 2030 in the world, this share will be 7.8 per cent. Some young enthusiasts are claiming that it will go upto 70 per cent which is far from the truth. If you do not believe us, at least believe this American report. The report of International Atomic Energy for the year 2007 clearly delineates the reduction in dependence on nuclear energy in the US. All these facts are available on the internet.
The report of Nuclear Power and Sustainable Development maintains that gas is the cheapest source of energy, followed by coal and nuclear. After 2015 and 2030 the price of gas will go up but coal will become cheaper followed by nuclear. If we wish to adopt green technology, we should go for coal. Even Mr Pachauri maintains that nuclear energy is no option for sustainable development. This will constitute only three per cent in our energy basket.
We have been insisting that a cost benefit analysis of the proposed deal should be made. The whole country should know all the details. Our accusation is that the diplomatic process in the country is being outsourced like the call centres to America. Our diplomacy has been handed over to the national security advisor in IAEA and the ministers in the external affairs seem to know nothing much about it. The Congress party’s policy is being determined by the national security advisor who is an appointee of the government. A political leader looks at these things differently -- its historical background, its future, its political and social implications etc. We had supported this government on the basis of the CMP to lead this country and not to make deals.
This country has to be saved from the deal and the dealers. Whenever any of the America senators like Nicholas Burns or Ackerman or secretary Condoleezza Rice make statements prompting the government to hurry up the deal the prime minister becomes nervous. This is wrong.
I appeal that the way we have to find for our country does not either emanate or end at Washington. The way forward for us begins from the poor man’s hut and can take us to unprecedented heights. We should rely on our human resources, our scientists and technology. By depending on Bush we will reach nowhere.