Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, a known friend of India in the Congress who played a key role in passage of the civil nuclear deal during Bush Administration, has lost the primary Senate elections in his state.
Mr. Lugar, a six-term Senator, lost to Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. His defeat on Tuesday brought an end to the political career of one of the longest serving Republican Senator spanning more than three and half decades.
He was the main target for national conservative groups, including the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, the National Rifle Association and the Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, who spent more than $ 3 million in advertisement against him.
In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration’s efforts to secure the world’s most dangerous weapons has been based on the work that Lugar began, as well as the bipartisan cooperation we forged during his first overseas trip as Senator to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
“Senator Lugar comes from a tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership on national security that helped us prevail in the Cold War and sustain US leadership ever since,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Lugar is the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
As a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- first as its Chairman and then as its Ranking member – Mr. Lugar had played one of the most important role in passage of the India-U.S. Civilian Nuclear Deal.
He was also the architect of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill that assured Pakistan more than $7.5 billion in US aid to Pakistan in five years.
Expressing his deep disappointment over Mr. Lugar’s defeat, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry termed it as a tragedy.
“This is a tragedy for the Senate and the loss is particularly felt by all of us who have been privileged to serve with Dick on the Foreign Relations Committee. It’s a blow to the institution during a period when the institution itself has been strained,” Mr. Kerry said.
In his concession speech, Mr. Lugar promised to continue to work on national security issues.
“My public service is not concluded,” he said.
During the confirmation hearing of the US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, Mr. Lugar had said India is anchor of stability in Asia.
“India is poised to be an anchor of stability in Asia and a centre of economic growth far into the future. It has a well-educated middle class larger than the size of the entire U.S. population. It is already the world’s second-fastest growing major economy, and bilateral trade with the U.S. has more than tripled during the past ten years.
“The U.S. and India are working to build a strategic partnership that will benefit both sides, and we have ongoing cooperation with India on many fronts,” Mr. Lugar said in his remarks in February.
“This includes efforts to ensure security in South Asia.
India and the U.S. have strong incentives to cooperate on counter-terrorism in the region and beyond. We also share concerns about the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the growing military capabilities of China,” he said.
In his speech on the Senate Floor in October 2008, Lugar had said that the civil nuclear deal was one of the most strategic diplomatic initiatives of the US in last one decade.
“Mr President, today the Senate considers the US-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. This is one of the most important strategic diplomatic initiatives undertaken in the last decade.
“By concluding this pact, the US has embraced a long-term outlook that will give us new diplomatic options and improve global stability,” Mr. Lugar said during the debate while passage of the bill during the last days of the Bush Administration.