The Nuke Deal and Its Brokers Must Go!

The Nuke Deal from its inception was part of the US hegemonic design intended to erode India 's sovereignty and turn India into the US' strategic pawn in South Asia . This was clear from the moment the Deal was used as bait and bribe to get the UPA to vote against Iran at the IAEA – and the Manmohan Government in indecent eagerness, forced India to swallow it hook, line and sinker. The Hyde Act and the various pronouncements of US Senators only confirmed that what the US wanted from the Deal was to clinch the "congruence" of Indian foreign policy with US' imperialist strategy. Ironically, George W Bush, widely held to be the most hated US President both in the world and in his own country, has been hailed by no less than the Prime Minister as the most India-friendly US President! The Indian envoy to the US, emboldened by the PM's praise of Bush, has heaped taunts on the Left and declared that the Hyde Act is the 'law of the land' and is here to stay. Manmohan Singh and his envoy Ronen Sen are desperate to assure Bush that US word is our law, but Sen's outburst reflects their frustration at the fact that the Indian people are not willing to accept this status.         

The 123 Agreement in conjunction with the Hyde Act is the worst blow yet to our sovereignty. While the US Agreement with China expressly forbids the US from citing its national laws to overrule the treaty, the Indo-US Agreement maintains a loud silence on this. The unequal nature of the 'Deal' is even more eloquently conveyed by the fact that the 123 Agreement is enabled by a US Act of Congress, while Indian Parliament is not even willing to put the Agreement up for a vote!

The pro-nuke lobby, in its desperation to defend the Deal is trying to whip up an anti-communist hysteria. One is reminded of how Manmohan Singh accused opponents of the Bush visit of 'Muslim appeasement' – now opponents of the Nuke Deal are being branded as Chinese agents. To conceal their own readiness to subjugate Indian sovereignty and self-respect to US hegemony, proponents of the Deal are attributing the Left's opposition to dogmatic 'anti-Americanism' or 'pro-China' ideology. They are determined to divert attention from the real burning questions of national interest thrown up by the Deal.

How on earth can it be in India's national interest to allow a US law (the Hyde Act) to issue directives for our foreign policy and relations with other nations? The notion that these directives are 'non-binding' is deliberately misleading: how 'binding' they are stands proved by the UPA Government's behaviour in the vote against Iran at the IAEA. How can it be in our national interest to be drawn into the US 'War on Terror' imposed on the third world countries especially of the Middle East? The fact that we played host to the US warship Nimitz, which is involved in the gunboat diplomacy against Iran, is further proof of the far-reaching linkages of the civilian Nuke Deal with US military plans. How much energy is India really getting from the Deal, and at what cost? Are there not better alternatives? Is it wise of India to tie itself to the US at a time when new poles and co-operations on a more equitable basis are emerging to challenge US hegemony? These are just some of the questions that the pro-Deal camp is unwilling to address.   

The fate of the Deal and of India's national interests is now bound up with the tactics of the Left vis a vis the UPA Government. The need of the hour is for the Left to ensure the defeat of the Deal and expose the craven pro-imperialist nature of the Manmohan Government. Manmohan Singh dared the Left to withdraw support if they wished, emboldened no doubt by the fact that be it on the issue of the Patents' Amendment Act or the SEZ Act or any other issue of national concern, the CPI(M)'s bark had always been belied by its failure to bite.

In this case too, it remains to be seen whether the CPI(M) will demonstrate the political will to carry its opposition through to its logical conclusion, and take the decisive step of ensuring the defeat of the Deal on the floor of Parliament. The signs are that the CPI(M)'s careful calibration of its closeness and distance from the UPA Government is set to continue. Instead of voicing an outright opposition to the 123 Agreement, its current focus is only on stalling the operationalisation of the Deal until the Left's concerns and doubts regarding the Hyde Act are addressed. It has withdrawn objections to the Government attending the IAEA meet in September, but has asked that the issue of India-specific safeguards not be discussed at the meet. It has demanded a discussion in Parliament on the Agreement - but no voting. And some of its leaders have even indicated that "withdrawal of support" need not necessarily mean CPI(M)'s vote against the UPA Government in a no-confidence motion leading to a mid-term poll; rather the UPA Government may be allowed to continue as a "minority government" with the CPI(M)-led left extending "issue-based support".

Such equivocation and vacillation can only give the Deal more breathing space and help it to survive. A paper (whose editorial policy is in sharp contrast to the anti-Left tenor of most of the media) has suggested as much: advising the Congress to see the Left as seeking a 'breather' for the Deal rather than as a 'deal breaker'. This paper has suggested that delay will not mean the death of the Deal, and if Manmohan Singh wants to save the Deal, he must first save his Government by taking the time to address and assuage the Left concerns about independent foreign policy. The unspoken suggestion is that the Deal can be saved if the Congress is far-sighted enough to offer some face-saver to the Left.

If the Indian Parliament cannot vote on a matter of supreme concern of our sovereignty, what relevance can it claim as a democratic institution? Discussion under the "No Vote" clause may allow the CPI(M) a chance to delay pulling down the Government – but to thus protect the Deal from its inevitable fate in Parliament is nothing but a blow to India's democracy and a shot in the arm to the pro-imperialist forces. 

Clearly, the need of the hour is for all patriotic, democratic and Left forces to join hands in decisive political action and launch a powerful mass movement against the anti-national Deal and against US imperialism.