Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
In a principled battle against pushing India into the hegemony of USA under the cover of the controversial 123 Agreement, the Left parties have succeeded in stymieing the nuclear deal, which, according to Senator Joe Lieberman “is so clearly in the interests of the United States” and in estimation of Reuters, is a “bonanza for U.S. Firms”; but according to Prme Minister of India, Dr. Man Mohan Singh is “signed, sealed and is non-negotiable”.
That the Indian National Congress has agreed with the Left that the Agreement should be reviewed and vetted by a joint committee is enough indication of the fact that good sense prevailing the Congress has refused to accept the Prime Minister’s version that the nuke deal with USA has been “signed, sealed and is non-negotiable”. It has also shown that it has distanced itself from the Prime Minister’s assertions that it is “not possible to renegotiate the deal” and the Left may “do whatever they want to do, if they want to withdraw support, so be it”.
After tormenting the entire country and using electronic media to pop up stage-managed ‘opinion polls’ speculating more resolute victory for Congress and defeat for the denigrators of the nuke deal, the Left and the BJP in the elections if withdrawal of support by the Left results in resignation of the Government necessitating a mid-term poll, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh has now agreed to act according to the “finding” of the joint party committee. Accordingly a statement has been issued yesterday by the Central Government that says, “The operationalisation of the nuclear deal will take into account the committee’s findings”.
So, it is a victory for the left. And the Left deserves gratitude of the nation for having blocked a fraud that was all set to be played on our people.
But this victory is not the victory of the people of India. Victory of our people lies in the victory of our Parliament. We have a Prime Minister that denies this victory to our Parliament. In the entire matter of nuclear deal, he has left our Parliament with only one option; i.e. to acquiesce into the agreement he has “signed and sealed”. In other words, he wants our Parliament to be a passive partner in running of our democracy in autocratic manners. So, even if the deal fetches support of the Left after being vetted by the joint committee, the Parliament would stand defeated if it will not be allowed to decide the fate of the said deal through votes.
It would be a blatant wrong to accept that executive powers vested in a Government grant it a carte blanche to make the Parliament a passive witness to its acts. Democracy entails that the Government must be answerable to Parliament. If any deal entered to upon by the Government under executive powers remains above controlling powers of the Parliament, democracy would be defeated. So, in the instant case, the Parliament should first disapprove the Prime Minister’s assertions that the nuke deal is “signed, sealed and is non-negotiable”. This assertion reveals a disposition that is anti-democracy in nature and it would be a defeat of our Parliament if this statement of the Prime Minister is not condemned.
Will the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, who is exploiting the situation to convince USA that neither he nor his party appreciate anti-Americanism, now act as the conscience-keeper of this country – as a Leader of Opposition in a democracy is supposed to be – and goad the issue into a deliberation on answerability of the Government to the Parliament, so that a principled decision of the House could be arrived at to ensure that no decision having global impact on future generations of India, as is the present nuclear deal, could be taken by any Government without prior approval of the Parliament?
If such a decision could be taken, that would be the victory of our people, our Parliament.
Otherwise, despite the instant Left victory, we, as a democracy, will stand defeated.