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Updated: March 30, 2011 17:30 IST

‘Unforgettable' Lalu assured U.S. he would work for N-deal

Sarah Hiddleston
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The Hindu

Minister of Railways and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad assured U.S. Ambassador David C. Mulford that he supported the nuclear deal, at a December 2007 meeting that even the seasoned diplomat described as “an unforgettable experience.”

Mr. Prasad, “on his best behaviour,” ensured that “a sizeable fraction of Rail Bhavan's 1.4 million workers” catered to the U.S. delegation's hospitality needs during the 30-minute meeting, Mr. Mulford cabled Washington on December 11, 2007 (133766, confidential).

Significantly for the U.S., Mr. Lalu Prasad assured the Ambassador that he understood the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement and that he and his party members were “trying to convince everyone that there is nothing to fear.”

Mr. Prasad warned Mr. Mulford that meetings with the BJP on the deal had led people to question U.S. motives.

Further, “[Lalu Prasad] Yadav derided the BJP's assertion that it will renegotiate the deal if it comes back to power. ‘Double-speak won't get them power,' he said.”

Mr. Prasad's limit, Mr. Mulford clearly saw, was “his party's precarious position in the state of Bihar.”

Mr. Prasad's support for the deal, he said, “stops if the downfall of the government comes into play. The conventional wisdom here suggests Lalu's first priority is to see the UPA secure a full term — with all the opportunities for patronage that represents.”

According to Mr. Mulford, “[Lalu Prasad] Yadav observed…[that] the Left still had questions. ‘We are in favor of convincing everyone,' he underlined.” Mr. Prasad added that he personally had good relations with the Left.

Mr. Prasad's concern for the Left and his stated aim for consensus revealed to the U.S. “the pressure that the allies may have exerted on the UPA government to mitigate the chances of the Left from withdrawing from power,” Mr. Mulford wrote. “No party wants elections,” the Ambassador quoted him as saying.

Mr. Mulford commended Mr. Prasad for his work on Indian Railways and dangled the possibility of two U.S. firms building a diesel locomotive factory in Bihar. Mr. Lalu Prasad replied that the eastern rail corridor would have electric traction thanks to Japanese assistance, but the western corridor would have diesel traction.

Mr. Prasad, Mr. Mulford wrote, “one of the most savvy, colorful, grassroots politicians in India,” was “not the spontaneous, funny, earthy, rustic Lalu Indians know and love, prompting our senior FSN [foreign service national] to comment that the MEA must have scared him silly prior to his meeting the Ambassador.”

He was attended by four key MPs of his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and a senior railway bureaucrat, “who greatly amplified the Minister's thoughts as expressed in workable, heavily accented English.”

Nevertheless, “Lalu was a gracious and perfect host,” Mr. Mulford concluded, “It was an unforgettable experience.”

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

I really appreciate 'The Hindu' for the great work. Apparently, a coalition of NDA with a participation or coalition with CPI will be the best bet for our Indians, Free Foreign Policy and for the national status. I don't know what these politicians have so they crawl at the feet of US. If UPA is in power again, we can forget about free India. We can only elect a party that promises the following: 1. Recall power for the citizens with in 6 months for it coming to power, 2. Sans Rhetoric a clear idea and procedure it will follow to bring in the black money in foreign banks as well as eradicate corruption. In this case, they can be elected only if their procedures are less with bureaucratic hurdles but more with transparency and efficiency. 3. Renegotiation of Civil-Nuclear Deal. Especially, creating indigenous technologies with alternative renewable power sources. It is needless to say our Hydro-Power potential is underexploited. All a clear establishment of emergency management, 4. Make Education and Medical facilities equal and for all. It is unfair that a poor person dies because he cannot afford the expensive medical facilities. Similarly, it is unfair that rich gets better education because he can afford for better schools and later better universities. 5. Secularism: Making reservations feed the those who already can take care of themselves. Like France, the assistance should be based on need, not on caste, creed, color, race, or sex. 6. Without farmers and the farming community we have to starve. Hence, we cannot afford to lose them to suicides and diseases. Need based financial assistance as in France, would greatly help them. The freebies only a feed a few corrupt. The ignorant poor sell their freebies for a few extra cash and then get loan to buy their sale at an extra cost. There are rules to punish people who buy the products but thanks to corruption they are never followed. Bio-Farming should be encouraged. I hope our public to wake up at least after 63 years of Independence.

from:  Sivasathivel Kandasamy
Posted on: Mar 30, 2011 at 13:12 IST
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