Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly told Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jaswant Singh that he could not “rely on” anyone in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) leadership to give him proper advice, except Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and some scientists, according to an American Embassy cable sent on October 24, 2005 (43447: confidential).
Jaswant Singh revealed this during a conversation with United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns on October 21, 2005. “[Jaswant] Singh said he would be frank and tell the U/S [Under Secretary] exactly what advice he had provided the PM. He opined that the UPA ‘does not have the intellectual commitment to improve US/India relations,' as it had inherited its platform in this regard from the previous NDA government, and had ‘grown into' its present position. He purportedly told the PM that India needs to stop asking for favors and start delivering to the world community,” the cable sent under the name of Ambassador David Mulford said. “[Jaswant] Singh also pointed out that the UPA would not be able to deliver as long as it was propped up by the Communists, who he claimed are bent on ‘hollowing out' the Congress party by ‘disapproving anything and everything.' Singh emphasized that these foreign policy issues are inherently political, and the PM has not properly dealt with their political dimensions,” the Ambassador reported on the conversation.
“The PM purportedly responded to Singh that he cannot ‘rely on' anyone in the UPA leadership to give him proper advice except Finance Minister Chidambaram and some of the scientists. Singh emphasized to the PM that the non-proliferation regime has changed from one of controlling testing to controlling the production of fissile material and the GOI [Government of India] needs to stay ahead of these trends. He also endorsed a missile defense system for India, saying that it makes sense to adopt a defensive rather than an offensive strategy,” the cable recorded Jaswant Singh's version of the conversation.
“Singh characterized the PM as a ‘good economist,' who is good at ‘reading paper,' but not strong on executing policy,” the Ambassador cabled. In a concluding comment on the discussions between Mr. Burns and Jaswant Singh, he said: “Singh made the right noises regarding NDA support for the US/India agenda, and the Indian stance regarding Iran in the IAEA, but appeared more focused on domestic politics than the international agenda.” (This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)