We will renegotiate n-deal to make it more equal: Advani (LEAD)

July 21st, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will renegotiate the India-US civil nuclear deal if it came to power, Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani said Monday during the trust vote debate that will decide the fate of the Manmohan Singh government. During his hour-long speech in which he covered a range of issues, including internal security and the price rise, Advani said he was neither against nuclear energy nor against a “strategic relationship” with the US.

Leading the opposition to the trust vote sought by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose government has been reduced to a minority after the Left withdrew support over differences on the India-US nuclear deal, Advani said: “We are not against nuclear energy. We are not against a very close relationship with the US. I may differ with the Communists on this view.”

He added that they had no objections to a strategic relationship with the US, Japan or Russia.

“We are not at all opposed (to) a relationship with America. (But) irrespective of how powerful the country, we would not like India to be a party to an agreement which is unequal,” the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said.

He stated that the India-US nuclear deal makes India a “subservient partner”.

Advani made it clear that his party would “renegotiate” the nuclear deal on coming to power and sought a constitutional amendment so that no international agreement could be carried out by any government without the concurrence of parliament.

“We will make it a deal between equal partners so that strategic interests are not compromised.”

He blamed the four years of “misrule” of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the present political crisis in the country.

Advani said it was neither the opposition BJP nor the Left parties that were responsible for the present crisis but the UPA itself.

“This situation has been brought by the UPA government itself. We are here to defeat the government on the floor of this house not to destabilise it. There has never been a session like this before. It’s for the first time that a discussion is taking place whether a minority government should stay or not,” said Advani, the BJP’s prime minister-in-waiting, addressing the Lok Sabha in English.

He said the UPA government failed on all fronts, especially for the “aam aadmi” (common man) and farmers, with inflation becoming wayward.

“The UPA government has been reduced to a patient in an ICU. The government was sworn in on May 22, 2004. Four years and two months later, it is facing the likelihood of being voted out,” the BJP leader said.

Lashing out at the prime minister, Advani said: “Without the Congress president’s (Sonia Gandhi) approval, you will not take a single step.”

The BJP leader said he had never seen a government so paralysed.

Quoting “authoritative sources” who told newspapers that the deal was on auto-pilot, Advani asked whether the government had rendered parliament irrelevant.

“My feeling is that it is not true,” he said.

Advani’s charge that Manmohan Singh had, in 1998, not supported the nuclear tests done by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government drew a sharp response from the prime minister who disputed the comment and sought that it be “substantiated”.

Advani was interrupted by Congress and MPs of other parties several times despite attempts by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to bring order in the house.

Advani blamed the UPA government for side-tracking important issues like terrorism. He pointed out to serial blasts in Mumbai, Malegaon, Hyderabad and Jaipur and terror attacks in Jammu and Varansi in recent months.

“I would like the prime minister and the home minister to tell us what has been the progress of the investigations in all these cases. Has anyone been put on trial or convicted?” Advani asked, adding that the performance of the government on this front had been dismal.

The only reason for the government’s laxity was the “vote bank”, the BJP leader said.

He also accused the Manmohan Singh government of dragging its feet on cases like that of Mohammed Afzal, sentenced to death for his role in the 2001 terror attack on parliament.

Advani brought up the issue of the Sethusamudram shipping canal project and the government’s affidavit in the Supreme Court putting a question mark on the existence of the Hindu god Lord Ram. At this, the speaker intervened to ask whether or not it was a “sub judice matter”.

Advani replied by saying that the government was forced to withdraw the affidavit following countrywide protests.

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