Government launches ad blitz to tomtom nuclear deal

July 12th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) With the political decks cleared for taking the India-US nuclear deal forward and elections looming on the horizon, the government has launched a publicity blitz by taking out full-page advertisements in leading newspapers in support of the deal. After the decisive push from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to approach the IAEA board for approving an India-specific safeguards agreement, the government has finally shed its defensive attitude and is going all out to convert the sceptics and win popular mandate for the deal, which it considers is in the supreme national interest.

The advertisement in leading dailies, including The Indian Express and Hindustan Times, shows a smiling Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi waving jubilantly at pulling off the deal. The government lost the Left parties’ outside support after it pushed for the deal and will now face a trust vote in parliament July 22.

The ad carries an endorsement from none other than Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar, a key interlocutor in the nuclear deal, who is quoted as saying: “If we don’t do it now, history will not forgive us.”

The ad also cites the manifold benefits the nuclear deal will bring to a fast developing but energy-starved India, especially in the context of escalating oil prices.

Giving a patriotic spin to rally support for the contentious deal, the advertisement says: “The nation now needs to unite and support the government for the economic growth and better future of the country.”

The advertisement is probably the first attempt by the government to reach out to the people to pre-empt the move by the communist parties to make the deal a major issue in the next general elections.

Terming nuclear energy as the “most efficient, environmentally cleanest and safe source of energy”, the advertisement says it produces more energy than any other source and is replenishable compared to fossil fuels.

The carefully-worded advertisement bears the imprint of the government’s top spin doctors and the foreign office. The Press Information Bureau had nothing to do with it, Principal Director General (Media and Communications) Deepak Sandhu told IANS.

The advertisement has been brought out by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas to project the deal as primarily an energy issue that will spur economic growth of the country, and to rebut the charge of the Left that the deal allegedly aims at drawing India into a strategic alliance with the US.

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