British media feels government has got mandate for n-deal

July 23rd, 2008 - 1:47 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Venkata Vemuri
London, July 23 (IANS) The British media in general feels the vote of confidence in the Indian parliament has given the Manmohan Singh government the mandate to go ahead with the nuclear deal with the United States. The bribery charges levelled by the opposition against the Congress-led government may have marred vote proceedings, but the outcome is a positive for the UPA government and sets the stage for the next general elections in India, goes the general opinion.

The Independent says: “The outcome means the administration will push swiftly ahead with the co-operation deal ahead of a general election that must be called by May next year.”

The Guardian says the vote clears the way for a landmark nuclear deal with the US which marks the end of India’s international isolation as a rogue nuclear weapons state.

The daily highlights the point that the Communist parties were the main impediments delaying the deal: “Communist parties had blocked the deal, saying it would make India little more than a US pawn. Last night in a statement posted on his official website, the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, said that those parties ‘wanted a veto over every single step of [nuclear] negotiations which is not acceptable. They wanted me to behave as their bonded slave’.”

The BBC reports: “In particular, it was a decisive victory for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had staked his personal reputation on the Indo-US nuclear agreement, a deal that many in his own party were not convinced about.”

The BBC also highlights the bribery charges and steps taken to woo MPs, describing them as “sordid, seamy side of the world’s largest democracy laid bare”.

It says: “If there is one thing that has dismayed most Indians over the past 48 hours, it is the sight of their political leaders openly squabbling in parliament. Even by Indian standards this was an unruly, ugly debate that often threatened to get out of hand.”

The Telegraph says the open bickerings over bribery in parliament may have “damaged” the prime minister’s popularity, but the vote strengthens the government’s hand for the N-deal.

“His victory, by a wider margin than some had expected, ended a fortnight of intense lobbying. The government’s Left-wing allies from India’s Communist parties had withdrawn their support because they bitterly oppose the nuclear deal, viewing it as an American plot to drag India into its orbit. Deprived of this support, Mr Singh had to struggle for every vote - and the methods used were not always conventional.”

The Times reports that the bitterness in parliament over the vote may not leave the Indian government entirely free to go ahead with the deal: “Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, said that the bribery allegations had made him sad and promised to co-operate with any investigation. That could cast a shadow over the efforts of India to deliver its side of the nuclear deal to import US nuclear fuel and technology.”

The Irish Times says: “Many Sikhs hailed the prime minister from their community as ‘Singh is king’ and anticipated that in the remaining nine months of his term, unshackled by Communist support he would now execute long-delayed economic and labour reforms.”

The Scotsman reported that the confidence vote ensures the survival of the Indo-US nuclear deal, which “makes India a de facto nuclear power despite not signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and conducting nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998″.

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