Indian Express

No comments on BJP’s manifesto promising nuclear doctrine: US

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bjp-manifesto-medium According to the manifesto released in New Delhi yesterday, BJP had said if voted to power, it will study in detail India's nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it. (AP)

The US has refused to comment on election manifesto of BJP, which promises to revise India’s nuclear doctrine, if voted to power after the Lok Sabha polls.

“We… are not going to comment on a platform of a party running for office on ongoing elections. But nothing has changed about our view,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday.

According to the manifesto released in New Delhi yesterday, BJP had said if voted to power, it will “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times”.

At her daily briefing, Psaki refused to make any comment on the BJP’s election manifesto.

“I’m not going to outline it further. Obviously, these are discussions we have with the Indian Government,” she said.

Later a senior State Department official told reporters that the US, as a matter of policy, would not make any comment on an internal document of a political party in the middle of an election.

“The government (of India) has not changed its policy. It is unlikely we would have much to say before that point,” the official said.

Referring to the BJP’s promise of reviewing the country’s nuclear doctrine, Alyssa Ayers, a former senior State Department official, said this element of the manifesto will be of great interest around the world, especially given the past history of the BJP hewing to their platform statements regarding nuclear doctrine.

“Indeed, the BJP manifesto of 1998 pledged to “Re-evaluate the country’s nuclear policy and exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons. In May 1998, they did,” she wrote in a blog at the Council on Foreign Relations — an eminent American think tank based in Washington.

In a significant departure from the Congress manifesto, which uses the word “nuclear” only once to exhort the need to expand civilian nuclear energy, the BJP pledges to update India’s nuclear doctrine to “make it relevant to challenges of current times.”

“They would maintain India’s policy of a credible minimum deterrent in tune with changing geostatic realities,” the former State Department official wrote.

“The BJP lays down some markers on FDI, India’s nuclear doctrine, and how it would approach its bilateral and multilateral relationships. As a roadmap for what the possible next Indian government might undertake, it thus offers some high-level guideposts, and important areas for external observers to watch closely,” Ayres said.

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