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PM defends Indo-US nuke deal as major gain

Aug 13, 2007 09:10 PM IST India India
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New Delhi: In 1991, Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister took a risk and introduced India to liberalisation. Now he's taking another risk with the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, and has asked that history be allowed to judge it. The Indian Parliamentary democracy hit a rare low on Monday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took about 25 minutes to read through eight-pages of prepared text. But the honourable MPs of the opposition did not even extend the courtesy of hearing out the Prime Minister of the day. The slogan shouting was led by the BJP and the third front UNPA looking for any opportunity to embarrass the government, even as the nuclear deal's worst critics particularly the Left parties sat quiet. The Prime Minister appeared unfazed, but the scenes were enough to upset the Speaker. In Rajya Sabha, the UPA's embarrassment was greater. Its ally, the Left Front, joined the opposition in walking out, even as Singh was speaking. However, the nation heard the Prime Minister loud and clear. Amidst the shouting the Prime Minister said, “India had negotiated full civil nuclear co-operation with the US. It had successfully protected its weapons programme and it will not take dictation from the US.” For now, the politicians continue to dissent and reactions range from asking the Prime Minister to read the fine print of the Hyde Act to indicating that they would close ranks during the discussions that will follow next week, to declaring victory. “What about the Hyde Act? Why implement it if it will have no impact on the agreement?” says MP, CPI(M), Basudev Acharya. “L K Advani has spoken to Prakash Karat and other opposition leaders for better floor coordination,” says MP, BJP, Yashwant Sinha. “We have got a sense of the House. A majority of the House opposes the deal,” says MP, Samajwadi Party, Amar Singh. However, it appears unlikely that there will be a vote on the issue. After all, much of what happens in Parliament tends to be political posturing.