Stage protest march in the capital against nuclear deal with United States
NEW DELHI: A large number of activists of the Left parties and their allies, led by CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury and CPI national secretary D. Raja, on Saturday staged a protest march against the India-U.S. nuclear deal from Mandi House to Hyderabad House.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to hold discussions at the Hyderabad House on the issue with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Observing “Black Day” to protest against the United Progressive Alliance government’s decisions to move ahead with the nuclear deal, activists of the CPI(M), the CPI, the All-India Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, along with those from the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Telugu Desam Party, began their protest march from the Mandi House. However, they were stopped mid-way by the police and not allowed to go all the way to the Hyderabad House.
Addressing the protesters, Mr. Yechury warned the UPA government against moving forward on the deal as it went against the interests of the country and impacted its sovereignty and independence of foreign policy.
Noting that U.S. President George W. Bush was still to sign the deal, Mr. Yechury pointed out that it would be good for India if he did not sign it at all.
The gathering was also addressed by Mr. Raja; AIFB secretary G. Devarajan; TDP spokesperson M.V. Mysoorareddy; and RSP leader Shatrujit Singh.
While Mr. Devarajan expressed apprehensions that the retrograde provisions of the Hyde Act would put more constraints on full civilian nuclear cooperation, the other leaders also pointed out how the U.S. Congress had adopted an Act to approve the 123 Agreement which had key provisions of the Hyde Act and a lot more.
The speakers said the Manmohan Singh government had been claiming that the Hyde Act would be overridden by the last Act passed by the U.S. Congress as per that country’s jurisprudence. But now that the last Act contained all the Hyde Act restrictions and they were made more explicit, they demanded that the Indian government not to sign the deal.
“The Act passed by the Congress spells out clearly that India does not have fuel supply assurance; there is no assurance regarding building a strategic fuel reserve for the life time of the reactors and whatever corrective measures it takes regarding fuel supply failure does not permit taking the reactors out of safeguards,” the leaders said.
They also noted with concern that the consent to reprocess was only notional and the U.S. would also work to prevent other countries from providing nuclear supplies to India if it decided to terminate the 123 Agreement.
It was pointed out that Ms. Rice had further assured Congress that India would be barred from enrichment and reprocessing technology in the next NSG meeting to be held in November.
The leaders said it was also worrisome that India was committing itself to buying a minimum of 10,000 MW worth of reactors from the “dying” U.S. nuclear industry that had not received any new orders for the last 30 years.