M A I N   N E W S

Now, new leaks expose BJP
WikiLeaks cables show party indulged in doublespeak over N-deal
Faraz Ahmad/TNS

New Delhi, March 19
The BJP was left dumbfounded today with the latest WikiLeaks cables exposing the alleged doublespeak of the main Opposition party on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal finalised in 2008.

According to WikiLeaks, the then US Charge’D Affairs in India Peter Burleigh conveyed to Washington that the BJP’s opposition to the nuclear deal was merely “public posturing” and its leaders, including LK Advani, were “assuring American officials privately that they were fine with it”.

Interestingly, Advani today, in his blog, attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for maintaining that his government and the Congress stood vindicated against the allegations about “cash for votes” by the 2009 General Election verdict.

The BJP leader also commended fellow party leader and former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh for attacking India’s foreign policy tilt towards the US. But not a word is there about the latest WikiLeaks cables.

Meanwhile, the Congress, which had borne the brunt of Opposition attacks because of WikiLeaks cables, appeared clearly pleased with the latest expose. The party wasted no time in scoring brownie points over arch rival BJP, asking the saffron party to apply to itself the same standards it had adopted for the government when it was disrupting Parliament over the past few days.

Refusing to buy any of BJP’s justifications, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, “Chickens have come home to roost for the BJP and rather soon.” He said the BJP was treating the WikiLeaks like the “Holy Grail of their political philosophy” even when the Congress had advised them not to give credence to hearsay.

“Now that the shoe is on the other foot, it is for the BJP to explain to the nation whether they will apply same standards to themselves as they attempted to apply to the government by needlessly disrupting Parliament for the last few days,” he added.

A BJP insider, on the other hand, tried to play down the issue: “That (the BJP doublespeak on the deal) is not the issue today. The deal has already been signed and we have to honour international deals like we honoured the Simla Agreement. But the real issue is that the government had indulged in a corrupt practice by bribing MPs to firm up its majority in the July 2008 confidence motion.”

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Even then we had only said the BJP wants safeguards for India’s strategic nuclear autonomy. And after the deal was signed, we said that efforts can be made to ensure that India’s strategic nuclear autonomy is maintained. Our position has always been different from the Left. We support good relations with the US.”

But the real position was that the BJP delegated the responsibility of stating its position on the deal to two of its leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. The two spoke several times in the run-up to the deal and completely debunked it on all counts.

During a meeting at Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s house on December 10, 2006, Shourie and Sinha asked the government to review the whole process saying it “seriously compromises the independence of India’s foreign policy”.

The BJP also claimed then that India had been expressly forbidden from nuclear testing in future, even of the kind permitted by the CTBT, and declared that there was no assurance in the deal of uninterrupted nuclear fuel supply to India.

At one stage, Advani tried to backtrack from this and had told a correspondent of a prominent daily that he and his party may have no objection to the deal if the government made some amendments in the Indian laws to safeguard strategic interests.

But immediately, Sinha and Shourie raised protests and Advani had to address a press conference soon after declaring that there was no change in the BJP position.

The WikiLeaks cables merely highlight the dilemma Advani and the BJP were facing in opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal.

BJP national executive member Seshadri Chari, whose name figured in these cables as having told an US Embassy official in Delhi in December 2005 “not to read too much into the foreign policy resolution, especially the parts relating to the US”, feigned amnesia today. Chari refused to comment saying he did not remember speaking to the then Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Blake. “I don’t remember the name. I don’t remember whom I met in 2005.”

Similarly, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar has also been mentioned in the cables echoing these statements, saying the “BJP was not really upset about the US-India relationship, but merely wanted the Government of India and its US counterpart to be more forthcoming about any deal on nuclear policy”, the cable said.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |