Government reaches out to people on ‘1-2-3′ of n-deal

July 17th, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) Three years after it struck a civil nuclear understanding with the US and days before it faces a trust vote in parliament, the Indian government Thursday went on a publicity offensive in an effort to explain the “1-2-3″ of the much debated deal to the people. “Think of tomorrow. Support the agreement today,” states the advertisement, brought out by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, and published in several leading dailies.

Seeking to rebut critics’ charges about the deal that led to the Left parties withdrawing their support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), reducing the government to a minority, the advertisement asserts that the pact “strengthens India’s energy independence, sovereignty and autonomy”.

The ad, headlined “1-2-3 of the Nuclear Deal” shows a smiling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a beaming Sonia Gandhi, who heads the ruling UPA coalition, telling people that the deal is an investment in the country’s future.

The advertisement talks of manifold benefits the deal will bring to the country by ending over three decades of sanctions which were imposed after it conducted the nuclear test in 1974.

Appealing to patriotic sentiments of the people, the advertisement underlines that the deal will end India’s technological isolation and grant India “the status of a recognised nuclear power that will not sign the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) but is respected as a non-proliferator”.

“The deal restores our sovereign honour,” it says.

Stressing the importance of the nuclear deal for India’s future energy security in view of soaring oil prices, a point Manmohan Singh has stressed many a time in parliament, the advertisement tries to explain the deal in the idiom of the common person.

“If we do not act now, our future energy independence is at stake,” it says in an attempt to get people to back the nuclear deal.

The ad binge started last weekend with an endorsement from Atomic Energy Commission chairperson Anil Kakodkar, a key interlocutor in the nuclear deal, who was quoted saying: “If we don’t do (the deal) now, history will not forgive us.”

The ad blitz is seen as a belated effort by the government to reach out directly to the common person on the issue of the nuclear deal. The publicity offensive is also aimed at garnering the support of smaller parties and independent MPs who are likely to play a crucial role in the trust vote in Lok Sabha next Tuesday.

It comes on the eve of the third anniversary of the July 18, 2005 civil nuclear understanding between Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush that seeks to reopen doors of global trade in nuclear technology and fuel in return for India placing 14 of its civilian reactors under permanent safeguards.

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