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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Comparison Between Personalities Falls Short

Sri K. Subrahmanyam writes in IE that BJP should join Congress I to get the nuclear deal passed.

Three parties will decide India’s nuclear future — the Congress, the BJP and the communists. The Congress and the BJP have a continuity in policy since Rajiv Gandhi initiated weaponisation in March 1989. The Pokharan II testing of Atal Bihari Vajpayee is a continuation of P.V. Narasimha Rao’s attempt to test in 1995. The Indo-US nuclear deal is a continuation and further enlargement by the Congress of the BJP initiative of Next Steps in Strategic Partnership with the United States. Both the Congress and the BJP are committed to seeing India as one of the major balancers of power in the international system and to developing the self-reliant three-stage nuclear programme that Homi J. Bhabha envisioned. The communists are not in favour of Indian nuclear weapons, India’s nuclear future and India as a major balancer of power with an independent foreign policy. As faithful members of the communist ummah they want China to dominate Asia, and the world ultimately, and they would like India to play a subordinate role.

While Sri Subrahmanyam is right on the ummah of communists, he seems to miss the tree for the forest.

Sri Vajpayee continued lot of policies of Sri P.V. Narashima Rao - not just the nuclear policy of testing weapons. Prime Minister Vajpayee kept the economy rolling, reducing the role of government in Bharatiya economic lives, moving away from costly socialist welfare policies that were the norm since Nehru days - a continuation of Prime Minister Narashima Rao's initiation of economic reforms lifting the heavy burden on the Bharatiya state on its people. Sri Vajpayee also kept the continuation of Ram Janmabhoomi policy that Sri Narashima Rao initiated, post-destruction of Babri Masjid, that courts would deal with the issue. The list can go on. And the close friendship between Narashima Rao and Vajpayee - wherein Vajpayee could represent Bharat at UN and gave a major foreign policy speech on UN floor when Narashima Rao's Congress I was in power - meaning the partisanship ended at the border.

One can't say the same thing about Manmohan Singh and Sri Vajpayee. If anything Manmohan Singh makes a clear break from former prime minster's policies on most major issues except US-India nuclear deal and making peace with terror sponsoring Land of Pure. Even as Manmohan continued the two major foreign policies initiated by Sri Vajpayee, he does not have the same relationship with any BJP leaders. In fact Manmohan Singh took it up himself from the day Congress I took power to humiliate Sri Vajpayee and Sri Advani - the two leaders who currently matter in BJP. Manmohan almost never consults with opposition on any foreign policy issue - on peace talks with LoP, on negotiation with US on the nuclear deal, or on UN issues.

Only after finding out that Congress I's bed fellows, those communists, will not agree to the nuclear deal, did Manmohan started approaching BJP with an off-again, on-again consultations. As recently as few months ago, even as Manmohan was calling Sri Vajpayee Petamaha, he was cussing Sri Advani.

There is no continuation of policies whether strategic or economic after the Congress I took over. Under Manmohan the state reverted to it's socialist welfare past with expensive and corrupting schemes to Congress I party men happy with little privatization of state businesses. Nor is there a decent relationship between BJP and Congress I. And it's a hard case to make BJP does not seek continued strength in strategic assets or desire close relationship with US. But consultation mechanism on foreign policy is a two ways street in national politics. Unfortunately Sri Subrahmanyam seems to have forgotten the basic issue of lack of decorum between Mahmohan and Advani, precipitated almost entirely by Manmohan.

Irrespective of the merits of the decision, BJP seems to at peace with its decision on the nuclear deal. One would hope analysts pushing for the BJP-Congress I love fest on this deal would take note.