In politics, timing is of the essence. The same step at the wrong time instead of the right time can reduce its impact immensely. This is what could happen to Congress fortunes in the context of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. The procedural timetable for clinching the deal dictates that the UPA government approves it before mid-July. The weeks ahead will tell us if the government finally summons courage to bite the bullet. If in the process the government loses its majority in parliament, it will lose just three to four months of its actual tenure. But the political loss to the ruling party in terms of votes by a year long delay could be incalculable. The PM painted himself into a corner simply because he lacked the conviction and passion of an ideologue.
Last year this scribe had urged the government to order a snap poll in November 2007 on the central issue of the N-deal. The Left had based its opposition to the deal on ideological grounds. It described any strategic relationship with America to be anti-national. The Congress, lacking conviction, tried to obfuscate the issue. It attempted to pretend that the deal had no strategic implications. The deal was only about augmenting energy for economic growth. This response was transparently stupid.
On August 29, 2007, this scribe wrote: "The issue before the nation is not the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. The issue is what constitutes national interest. If the government falls over the issue of the deal, the public will most certainly want to know why. And the reason for it would not be this or that clause in the deal'. What is at stake are two conflicting views of the future world and India's role in it. To the credit of Prakash Karat, he has understood this. He is upfront articulating his view. To the discredit of the Congress it appears to lack conviction. It fumbles badly while articulating its own view'. Let people decide what India's national interest is'. The Left sees no shortcoming in China. It even justifies implicitly China's claim to annex Arunachal Pradesh. It describes it as a negotiable dispute'. The supporters of the deal can, with much greater justification, claim that the Left serves the interest of China rather than of India'."
Innumerable instances were cited to demonstrate the Left's double-faced approach in whitewashing China's actions against India. Now, the government itself has shamefacedly revealed how China in collusion with Pakistan blocked India's entry to the UN Security Council. Based on official documented evidence that could only have been leaked by official agencies, the media reported this last Sunday. This perhaps anticipates the government's belated confrontation with the Left. If so, the government has lost much by the delay. But better late than never: better a lame duck than a dead duck!