Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

On release of the India-specific safeguards agreement that India Government had kept hidden, even refusing to place it before the UPA-Left panel, mainstream media have churned out comments criticizing mostly the critics to whom the nuke deal with USA in the form and style felt is not in consonance with Indian interest.

Academically these comments are noteworthy. Samples:

“Close reading the IAEA safeguards” by C Raja Mohan in The Indian Express on 11 July 2008, online;

“The Cat’s Out” – Times of India Editorial, 11 July 2008;

“Indo-US Nuclear Deal in Perspective” by B Raman, Sri Lanka Guardian, 12 July 2008;

“Parsing the India-specific safeguards agreement”: by Siddharth Varadarajan in The Hindu, 12 July 2008;

“IAEA safeguards agreement takes care of India’s strategic interests” by Amitabh Sinha in The Indian Express, 12 July, 2008

“Interests safeguarded: Nuclear sovereignty not compromised” The Tribune editorial, 12 July, 2008 etc.

People like Brajesh Mishra and M R Iyer also have come out in praise of the IAEA agreement.

Against this backdrop, we have published the draft agreement for anybody to go through its text.

But what we miss in the comments referred to above and in similar write-ups is that the real culprit that has precipitated the political predicament in India over the nuke deal is conspicuous by its absence in them.

That culprit is ‘lack of concern for democracy’.

It was prerequisite for proceeding with the deal that “Indian Parliament must agree to the text” of the Hyde Act, as this is the Act under which the 123 Agreement is generated and this is the Act by which the nuke-deal will be controlled.

Therefore Prime Minister Singh should have placed the Hyde Act before the Indian Parliament for the Parliament to agree to the text of this Act. If the Parliament of India would not have agreed to its text, he should have stopped proceeding with the deal. But, he surprised the country by declaring in August 11, 2007 all on a sudden that the deal with USA “is sealed, signed and non negotiable”! Since then the country has been pushed into the bitterest turmoil. It is now everybody’s knowledge that he is busy in horse-trading.

He has not only reduced relevance of Parliament by not placing the “text” of Hyde Act for the members to agree or disagree, but also has blackened its image by sticking to power in order to facilitate horse-trading to continue in power!

Why he and Sonia Gandhi are so very mad to help USA clinch the deal? And, that too, to the total disadvantage of India?

I am afraid; people of this country will never again take Singh into confidence. But such an unfortunate decadence in his credibility would not have occurred had he placed the “text” of the Hyde Act before the Indian Parliament and left it for the Members to “agree (or disagree) to the text” thereof.

His motive in not taking this correct and prerequisite step is clandestine; but his advocacy that the Hyde Act has no relevance to the nuke deal being on records, generates biting suspicions against him.

“Washington would not support India’s case if it was contrary to the Hyde Act”. This is the version of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. So, this Hyde Act kept hidden from Indian Parliament, even though it is meant to control the operation of the deal, by Prime Minister Singh and UPA chief Sonia Gandhi is a serious offence against the country.

Moreover, on April 23, 2008, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was on records to have said, “Parliament has the real authority to say yes or no to a treaty”. Sure, he knew what he meant by the words “yes or no”. He had used these words, as he knew that the deal’s prerequisite term was “Indian Parliament must agree to the text” of the deal.

Surprisingly, instead of asking the Parliament to say “yes” or “no” to the nuke deal, Singh’s government either used or misused the Speaker to limit the role of Parliament to help the government in assessing not the “yes” or “no” of members to the deal, but only to “take” “sense” of the House!

But in spite of such serious offence against the country, Singh and Sonia feel no qualms in boasting of cultivated support from persons like Mulayam Singh Yadav. This man whom voters of UP have thrashed down to dust, has declared that he would support Singh and Sonia because the nuke deal is essentially beneficial to the country. But this was the man who on September 30, 2007 had declared that he and his party would support any no-trust motion against UPA government if they do not discard the nuke deal, as the deal would be most catastrophic for the country! Why Mulayam has changed his color so swiftly?

Media should have tried to see the reason. But it has failed to feel.

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