Chidambaram taunts Communists, cites China example

July 22nd, 2008 - 1:55 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Swiping at the Left parties whose withdrawal of support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has prompted a trust vote in parliament, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday cited China’s ambitious nuclear power plans to push the India-US nuclear deal, saying “there are some people in India who do not want us to catch up with China”. “There are some people in India who do not want us to catch up with China. There are some people in this country who do not want us to get ahead of China,” Chidambaram said in the Lok Sabha on the second day of the trust vote debate.

His remarks predictably elicited howls of protest from Left MPs who are known to profess sympathy for China for ideological reasons.

Making a strong pitch for India to step up its nuclear power production, Chiadambaram pointed out that China had planned to increase its nuclear power production six-fold to 50,000 MW by 2020.

China, which now relies on nuclear power for only two per cent of its energy needs, has ambitious plans to scale up its nuclear power production capacity to 160,000 MW by 2030, he added.

Saying that India should compare itself to “large and complex countries” like China, the finance minister touted India’s ambitions to become an economic superpower to hardsell the contentious nuclear deal, which is being opposed by the Left parties who charge it will make India a pawn of Washington.

“I don’t want to envy China. I want to emulate China. I want India to become an economic superpower. We must aspire to greater heights,” Chidambaram said, while stressing that the purpose of the deal was to end India’s nuclear isolation.

Nuclear energy currently contributes barely three per cent of India’s energy needs.

China has yet to take an official stand on the India-US nuclear deal, but Indian officials are hopeful that Beijing will not come in New Delhi’s way in the way of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group amending its laws to enable the resumption of nuclear commerce after a three decade hiatus.

Chidambaram also sought to expose the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s doublespeak on the nuclear deal, saying it had been initiated during the previous National Democratic Alliance regime.

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