US NRI groups denounce move to topple government over n-deal

July 21st, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Parveen Chopra
New York, July 21 (IANS) Indian Americans, irrespective of their leanings for political parties in India, have generally denounced the move to topple Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government on the issue of the India-US civil nuclear deal and are sending out a message to opposition party MPs to vote according to their conscience. Even those who would describe themselves as Hindu nationalists say that any unbiased, progressive person will support the deal which will give the much needed energy for further development in India. Living in the US makes them more supportive of the deal, which they feel will further cement ties between the two countries.

Also, they don’t want the hard work put in by many Indian American community leaders with US lawmakers to push the deal to be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency in New Delhi.

Chandru Bhambhra, president of Overseas Friends of BJP, told IANS: “In my personal capacity, I disapprove of the dirty politics to throw away the Manmohan Singh government over the small matter of the nuclear deal. I agree with Atal Bihari Vajpayee (BJP leader) who was the first one to come out in support of the deal. If the couple of clauses regarding India’s security are modified, it is a win-win deal for both the countries.”

With the impending trust vote on Tuesday, Bhambhra said he would expect opposition MPs in Lok Sabha to vote according to their conscience.

That, willy-nilly, amounts to defying the party whips.

A couple of other prominent Hindu leaders with BJP leanings, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed the same sentiments as Bhamhbra, recalling the time BJP used to clamour for a strong, nuclear India and the nuclear test undertaken by the country when Vajpayee was prime minister.

Sikhs in the US have an additional reason for looking askance at the opposition parties banding together to defeat the government: Manmohan Singh, the first Sikh prime minister of India.

Master Mohinder Singh, who is general secretary of the American Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee, and is associated with many other Sikh bodies, told IANS: “The nuclear deal is a must for India’s progress. In Punjab, for example, there is a huge gap between the electricity required and the supply.”

He said Manmohan Singh as prime minister has enhanced the identity of Sikhs as a community. “We tell people here in the US with pride that we are cousins of the prime minister of the largest democracy in the world.”

Mohinder Singh said some Akali Dal politicians who were visiting New York last week shared in private their unhappiness over their party whip to MPs to vote against the Manmohan Singh government. “We expect some MPs would absent themselves at the vote Tuesday,” he said.

Surinder Malhotra, president of Indian National Overseas Congress, said: “Look at the difference between Congress, which is risking its government for what it considers to be in the national interest, and other parties which are compromising national interest to grab power.”

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