“The issue in India is who will blink first, the Congress or the Left. For the Left, it is clear the issue is not the 123 agreement, but the deepening U.S.-India relationship which they vehemently oppose.”

This was how Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia described to U.S. Ambassador David C. Mulford prospects for the Indo-U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement.

This was at a meeting in mid-September 2007, a month after the text of the 123 agreement had been released. |

The discussion was a digression from a planning session on an upcoming India-U.S. CEO Forum and visits by Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sells and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, according to a cable sent to Washington from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi on September 18, 2007 [122608, unclassified official “sensitive”].

The U.S. had been “very quiet publicly on the Agreement since July,” Ambassador Mulford replied to a query from Dr. Ahluwalia on deadlines to operationalise the agreement.

This was deliberately so “in order to avoid ‘stirring things up' for the GOI as it deals with political debate here [in India]”.

“Ahluwalia said that there are two possibilities if Congress calls the Left's bluff: it could continue as a minority government until calling for elections, or the Left could join with the BJP in bringing down the government, leading to elections,” the cable reported.

Either way, Dr. Ahluwalia was confident. “The Government is presently in a good political position to go into elections,” the cable relates him as saying, “but it would be better to go to the polls on issues other than the 123 agreement.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via WikiLeaks.)