I have done my very best to understand the Communists’ objections to government’s proposed nuclear deal with the United States. I have failed to do so. They say it will compromise our sovereignty and will make us subservient to America in our foreign policy. That makes even less sense to me. America has never tried to dictate our relations with other nations and has often regretted our growing friendship with countries hostile to it.
We have ignored those protests and made our own decisions. If any country has questioned our sovereignty over our territories, it is Communist China. It never accepted the sanctity of our northern borders with it: it waged a war against us, inflicted a humiliation on us, and to this day lays claims to territories that are ours. Our Communist comrades had never a word to say against the Chinese. Ask them why.
Do we need nuclear power? The answer is yes, we do desperately, and the sooner the better. We cannot afford to pay the exorbitant prices of oil, petrol or gas which we have to import to run our cars, buses, trains and aircraft. We cannot produce enough hydel or fossil-produced energy to cope with our ever-increasing demand for more power to run our factories and keep up the pace of development.
Comrade Prakash Karat is of the opinion that the government must first go to the people before signing the nuclear deal. I am not sure what he means by people: does he mean people who know what nuclear energy is and why it is needed, or just everybody who has a vote? If it is the former, then those who know about it have already spoken in its favour. They include the scientist — ex-President Abdul Kalam (Bharat Ratna), most nuclear scientists, many leading industrialists and Brajesh Misra, the most trusted political adviser of ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the BJP.
However, if he means the common man who understands nothing about it, he clearly means an earlier election, which he says he does not want. Whatever it be, he is in for a nasty surprise. Whenever the next general elections take place, it will be a significant diminution of votes for the Communists and gains for his sworn enemy, the Hindu-Sikh communal parties. And hopefully comrade Prakash Karat will fade into the background of the Indian political scene. — For more details go to www.hindustantimes.com/khushwantsingh