BJP faces WikiLeaks heat on India-US deal (Lead)

March 19th, 2011 - 11:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) The target of the latest WikiLeaks expose, the BJP Saturday dismissed reports that its leaders had adopted different stands in their public declarations and private conversations on the India-US nuclear deal, and demanded that the diplomatic cables relating to India be probed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on WikiLeaks revelation that the Congress lined up money to bribe MPs to win the 2008 parliamentary trust vote, reacted strongly to the expose that its own leaders spoke in two voices on the India-US relations.

The expose drew strong reaction from the Congress, which said it was for the BJP to explain to the nation whether they will apply same standards to themselves as they attempted to apply to the government by disrupting parliament for the last few days.

BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay said there never were two stands on the nuclear deal.

“All BJP leaders followed one single official line, that was to oppose the bill. Even on the bill, it was the BJP’s stand that made the government accept 16 amendments to make it more stringent,” Vijay told IANS.

The latest US diplomatic cables, cited by the Wikileaks and published by The Hindu, say the BJP leadership had told US diplomats that its criticism of the US in public was to score “easy political points” against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

The BJP’s national executive member Seshadri Chari figures in the cables as having told US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Blake in New Delhi in December 2005 “not to read too much into the foreign policy resolution (of the BJP), especially the parts relating to the US”.

The BJP resolution accused the UPA government of being subservient to the US.

“Chari dismissed the statement (resolution) as standard practice aimed at scoring easy political points against the UPA. BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar echoed these statements, saying that the BJP was not really upset about the US-India relationship, but merely wanted the government of India and US government to be more forthcoming about any deal on nuclear policy,” the cable said.

Vijay denied that the latest revelations were an embarrassment to the party, “We firmly demand an inquiry into every bit (of WikiLeaks expose) that has appeared. It is an embarrassment for the UPA and victory of the BJP’s stand on cash-for-votes.”

Vijay refused to comment on the purported Dec 28 remarks of Chari.

“I do not know who said what. The party never wavered from its official position on the nuclear bill,” Vijay said.

In another cable, the embassy’s then charge d’affaires Peter Burleigh wrote after a meeting with former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani in May 2009 just before the Lok Sabha poll results were out, that the leader downplayed any move by his party to re-examine the nuclear deal and noted that BJP “does not take international agreements lightly”.

Asked about Advani changing tack during his talk with the US diplomat, Vijay said the party veteran was simply reiterating the old practice of continuity in governance.

The BJP leader’s view, the diplomat wrote, was that the government was a continuity, particularly in matters of foreign policy and international agreements cannot be taken lightly.

Javadekar said there were no contradictions or double-speak in the party’s stand and added that BJP keeps national interest as supreme.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari reacted strongly to the latest expose and said the BJP had made WikiLeaks “the holy grail of their political philosophy” even when his party had warned them not to give credence to hearsay.

“For the BJP, chickens have come home to roost and they have come rather soon. Now, the shoe is on the other foot,” he said.

Union Law Minister M.Veerappa Moily said the latest revealations about the BJP’s private conversations with American diplomats on the nuclear deal had exposed its “double standards”.

“This is totally a double standard. They will have to answer why they behave like this,” Moily told reporters here.

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