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Updated: March 19, 2011 06:22 IST

Advani plays down BJP opposition to nuclear deal

Suresh Nambath
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According to a U.S. Embassy cable, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani played down his party's opposition to the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement. File photo
PTI According to a U.S. Embassy cable, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani played down his party's opposition to the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement. File photo

He tells U.S. Embassy the stance on re-examining deal was linked to politics in India.

When in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will behave very differently from its days in the opposition. This was the reassuring feeling that United States Embassy Charge d'affaires Peter Burleigh got after a meeting with the BJP's prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on May 13, 2009, just days before the results of the Lok Sabha election were out.

In a cable of the same date (206814: confidential), Mr. Burleigh told Washington that Mr. Advani played down his party's opposition to the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement, and assured the U.S. that there would be no imminent move to reopen the deal if the BJP returned to power.

“Looking relaxed and confident, Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani told Charge that there would be continuity and strength in U.S.-India relations should a BJP-led government emerge after the national parliamentary elections currently underway.”

Mr. Burleigh wrote: “He acknowledged [that] the BJP public position in July 2008 was that the deal constrained the country's ‘strategic autonomy' and the party would ‘re-examine' it if it returned to power but connected that stance to domestic political developments then at play in India.” In Mr. Advani's view, the diplomat said, “government is a continuity,” particularly in matters of foreign policy. International agreements “cannot be taken lightly,” the cable quoted the BJP leader as saying.

In this context, Mr. Advani pointed to the strong objections of his party to the 1972 India-Pakistan Shimla Agreement, noting that the party did not scrap that agreement when it came to power.

Mr. Burleigh reported: “According to Advani, the problem in dealing with Pakistan today is that it is not clear who is in charge — the civilian government, the Army, the ISI or some other entity. In his view, it was easier to deal with Pakistan during General Musharraf's tenure because it was clear who had the last word. Advani expressed great concern over the rising influence of the Taliban in Pakistan. CDA responded that the USG shared this concern, noting that there is increasing congruity between Indian and U.S. interests and perceptions of threats in the region and beyond.”

Mr. Advani also cautioned about the tendency of the global community to view the India-Pakistan ties through the Kashmir lens. “He said that having grown up and lived in Karachi for the first 20 years of his life, he has a certain understanding of the India-Pakistan dynamic. In his view Kashmir is only one of the problems in the bilateral relations but it is not the core issue nor one on which the entire relationship hinges. He thinks the main conflict arises from the fact that one country is a flourishing democracy and the other is not.”

Mr. Advani, Mr. Burleigh recalled, recounted a discussion he had with former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto a few years ago in which they identified two factors that had allowed democracy to take hold in India while Pakistan struggled with it: an apolitical Army and an independent Election Commission in India. “Advani said he has since added a third reason for the difficult path of democracy in Pakistan: the country remains feudal in its structure while India has swept aside its feudal systems for the most part.”

On Sri Lanka

On Sri Lanka, Mr. Advani emphasised that the primary Indian concern was for the well-being of the Tamil population. He told the Charge he understood the Sri Lankan government's desire to defeat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, but it should have been more mindful of the suffering of the Tamils caught in the crossfire. “Advani observed that the Sri Lankan government would make a big mistake if it was not clear and generous in its approach to the devolution of power to the Tamils once the fighting had stopped,” Mr. Burleigh added.

Mr. L K Advani has shown what a true statesman he is. A very mature approach to dealing with the policies of the ruling government even while acknowledging the fact that domestic political compulsions should not impact strategic agreements between nations. If there is merit in disagreeing with a previous regime's agreement, then there are ways to bring in changes and amendments so as to further our nation's interests. His example of the Shimla Agreement, where the BJP has traditionally differed with the Congress, shows that Mr Advani knows what he speaks. These cables have only shown what a great politician and great statesman Mr. Advani is and that he is probably the best person to be the Prime Minister of India. Alas, due to the kind of politics we play in India, he is likely to remain as the most worthy person who never became India's PM.

from:  Shankar V
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 10:42 IST

Being behind the americans is our own fault. Our entire society is Corrupted. We must accept that we are not good. The nation is controlled by corrupt people. So called good people are mere onlookers.

from:  Hari
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 16:09 IST

BJP statemanship is poor. They cannot moblise people, no clear thinking, do not see that India is on sale. Growth rate is negative, industry shutting down, India became consumer, foreign trade is negative. How BJP can say they are working for the nation?

from:  S K Bansal
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 14:31 IST

This is the actual faCE OF BJP, they say some thing and do some thing, corruption is every where. Fact is all are under pressure of USA. They are fooling the public of India, all are full of corruption. The ministers, MLAs, MPs who weren't having money to purchase the bus/ Train Tickets from where they are having Luxury Cars, Houses and hotels and ornaments? They are playing with the fire , time is coming the India will face like Libya.

from:  Balbir Singh Kushwaha
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 12:20 IST

I think we should look at his comments in a different light. It is only natural and right for an opposition to continue to pursue the previously accepted agreements or make modification to it, rather than scrap it all together. If every opposition party is going to scrap the earlier international agreements made by the previous government, then India would not be looked as a stable democracy. He has only agreed that India would continue to maintain the Indo-US relations in a good stead, which is a politically correct comment under the present international senario. We should not forget that, the amendments made to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal were due to the fact that the opposition had requested it.

from:  Amit Durgaprasad
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 02:33 IST

No one speaks fact to the people whether they are in Ruling party or opposition party.The motive behind their statements are political advantage.Both the parties doing the very same thing but speaks in different voice.Only the people can depend on the whistle blowers like wikileaks

from:  Vilvam
Posted on: Mar 20, 2011 at 00:58 IST

Politicians in India, whether they be of any party, region or creed, still have that amazing ability to speak one thing in front of the Indian public and quite another behind its back. Other than their voracious appetite for money, this is one single characteristic that binds them all.

from:  Banshan K
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 23:51 IST

'India on Sale' is the picture that the people 'governing' us are portraying to the rest of the world. It is evident from the cables that no one genuinely cares about the ordinary people of India's interests. We are just betrayed. I am wondering what would Gandhi be doing if he is alive now?

from:  Nikilesh
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 23:01 IST

Mr. HBS Pahwa seems to consider USA as bete noir like the communists. There is nothing to indicate in Advani's talks that he is surrendering to US hegemony.

from:  M. P. S. Ramani
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 21:28 IST

Senior political leaders, both of the ruling parties and of the opposition parties, perhaps because of their eagerness to appear on TV channels which have a wide reach, appear regularly on the electronic media either in conversation with the anchors in the television studios or answering questions from the ubiquitous TV journalists prowling around with their microphones and cameras. In such situations they may say things which they may be regret afterwards. They seem to have committed the same mistake while interacting with clever American diplomats. The WikiLeaks expose, one hopes, would make these leaders more discreet in future at least in their personal interest.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 19:33 IST

Pls publish all the cables in one place as a book or a PDF. The common Indian public has every right to know who is 'actually' ruling him and is taking decisions for him. Though public can't really fight on each and every context,as a whole they will realize the importance of their votes that they cast in every 5 yrs.Though a sudden improvement can't be expected with wikileaks, TRANSPARENCY will only make the systems better.

from:  Aleen
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 19:26 IST

There is nothing wrong. What is the double speak here. When a wrong policy is made by the previous govt, as a responisble opoosition, they have to oppose. But they cannot blindly reverse the agreement when the opposition comes back to power. This is the bureaucracy with all the govt of the world powers.I do not understand what the media is trying to point to.

from:  Vinoo
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 19:20 IST

The interference and influencing of America in our country's internal policy matter is a matter of our great concern. This badly affects our capacity to take the independent decision in our matter of national importance. How can we say proudly that ours is a sovereign country and takes all decisions independently.

from:  Sarvadeo Singh
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 18:53 IST

Advaniji's public and private comments are identical. After all, BJP always advocated US-India relations as 'strategic' and not as one issue 'centric'. As always he is eloquent and lucid about BJP's in particular and India's position in general. He articulated it well for the US diplomat.'The Hindu' did a great service by publishing them.

from:  Ramana Murthy
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 17:02 IST

What is wrong in this?? BJP/Advani is perfectly right in stating that while there could be opposition on any ideological line, including on foreign policy, once any agreement is inked out by one govt the same cannot be taken lightly by the subsequent governments and on ideological grounds annul the same! Rightly stated by Advani Givernemnt is always a continuity unless and otherwise the decision grossly violates the sovereignity of the nation ! If it is not so then it will always be a chaos when it comes to governance!!

from:  Arun
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 16:56 IST

Advani is a true Statesman and nationalistic politician, as these cables reveal in full glory. Only a great Statesman understands the value of continuing with the commitments made on behalf of the nation (including by the opposition parties) in the past. His example of Shimla agreement was also an apt quote to the US official. Kudos to him. I wish he becomes PM and we get rid of Manmohan Singh's Indian (Anti) National Congress party for next million years.

from:  Shailendram
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 16:03 IST

I request THE HINDU to upload in the website all the INDIA CABLES ( once they are duly published in the news paper)as single pdf document

from:  B.Krishnakumar
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 12:34 IST

The Indian Cables give insight into the behind-the-scene working of the national and international events. It confirms the fact the USA is the de-facto Emperor of the World. Every Leader of the country wants to be in the good books of the USA. The cables show that a large number of contacts of the US or the CIA included Govt. officials, political leaders, businessmen and other social worker, who report on the developments in India to the US Officials. It should be a matter of concern to the Security of the country.

from:  HBS Pahwa
Posted on: Mar 19, 2011 at 06:40 IST
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