Congress Party Stands Diminished
India's Congress Party which is presently in power in New Delhi stands politically diminished in the wake of the political imbroglio that it brought on its head over the duplicitous mishandling of the Indo-Nuclear Deal. It was not only the Congress Party which stood diminished both literally and figuratively but also stood diminished the political stature of the Congress Party President and so also the Congress Prime Minister. In marked contrast India's Leftist Parties leaders especially Mr. Prakash Karat shone through as principled political leaders even though one may not agree with their ideological opposition to the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.
India's Leftist Parties had consistently opposed the Nuclear Deal and had made it clear that if the Congress Government ( to whom they provided outside political support for its continuance in power ) proceeded to the IAEA without their approval of the text of the Draft Agreement they would withdraw support from the Government.. A survey of the media reports of the last week would amply indicate the changing stands and lame excuses that were being advanced by the Congress Government to not to reveal the text. Further all these political games would not have taken place without the assent of the Congress President.
In hindsight it now appears that the Congress Government kept going through the charade of six rounds of coordination meetings between the Leftist Parties leaders and the External Affairs Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee on the Nuclear Deal processing to gain time to garner alternative political support from the Samajwadi Party (SP ) knowing fully well that the Leftist Parties would adopt a principled stand of withdrawing political support from the Congress Government the moment they referred the Deal to IAEA. Once SP political support became a surety the Congress hardened its stances with the Leftist Parties.
The bigger question that has been left abegging is the timing of the Congress Government's moves. The economic situation is grave, inflation is at an all time high and the stock markets are reeling. The life of the common Indian has become economically miserable. Was this a right time for the Congress Party and its Government to inject political volatility and political uncertainty by trying to push through the Nuclear Deal which had become highly controversial in the domestic public debate both politically, intellectually and scientifically?
The last one week has been a politically repulsive week for all right thinking Indians witnessing how low India's political leaders can stoop in their political machinations and how much of doublespeak that they can resort to. Within the Congress Government it seemed that the Prime Minister was saying one thing and the Foreign Minister was being made to mouth different statements to his Leftist interlocutors. The Congress spokespersons were busy giving their own spins
Revolting further was the voluble expressions of their new found love by the Congress and SP leaders who till the other day were at daggers drawn with each other. The electronic media did a good job of repeatedly showing the vitriolic attacks that SP and Congress leaders were indulging in just before they got newly bewitched politically.
Both the Congress Party leaders and the SP leaders went to absurd and comical heights to justify their politically expedient union on the ground that it was 'India's National Interest' which impelled their moves. India was not amused.
Once the Leftist Parties leaders handed their letter of withdrawal of support to the Congress Government, Mr Prakash Karat gave a very persuasive exposition of how the Congress Party had been treacherous with the Leftist Parties on the Deal discussions. This provoked Congress Party spokespersons, all legal luminaries, to descend one more notch below in political propriety and one of them who is in the habit of converting political debates on the electronic media to courtroom histrionics and legal jugglery went to accuse the Communists of being treacherous all along from 1942 onwards.
If that was a long held Congress Party perception of the Leftist Parties then why did the Congress Party enter into a political coalition with the Leftists in 2004 and continued with their political support for the next four years?
All visuals of the TV public debates on the Deal issue fond the Congress spokespersons agitated and angry in their responses. Obvious to India at large was that these Congress spokespersons were rattled defending the indefensible. It was not that the Indo-US Deal was not defensible but what was indefensible was the way the Congress Government mishandled the processing of the Deal.
The US-India Strategic Partnership of which the Indo-US Nuclear Deal was one important component is an Indian strategic imperative in the evolving global security environment. It should have been projected and explained as such to the Indian nation. Bi-partisan political support should have been attempted all along with prudent transparency. By trying to abduct the Nuclear Deal as an exclusive Congress Party achievement the Congress Party has done grave injustice to the evolving of an overall strategic partnership with the United States.
The Congress Government's and the Congress Party's mishandling of the Nuclear Deal's processing and lack of transparency with the Indian people on the issue has regrettably led to the Nuclear Deal becoming avoidably 'tainted' in the overall public perceptions and so also the Congress Party ending up as politically diminished.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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