External Affairs Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee categorically stated that all the Bangladeshi nationals who took refuge in India would not be asked to leave India against their wishes. “Those who asked for asylum because they are victimised in their country will get asylum. It is a moral and not a diplomatic question alone,” he told the Lok Sabha. Replying to a five-hour debate on demands for grants from the ministry, which the House later voted, Vajpayee said at the same time the government would not allow the Indian soil to be used to carry out hostile activities against a friendly country. This applied equally to the Dalai Lama and the people who came from Bangladesh.
Desai And Carter
Vajpayee made the point that diplomatic exchanges between Prime Minister Morarji Desai and the US President Jimmy Carter had been characterised by warmth and understanding. The exchanges “augur well for the future”. On China, the minister said that based on the old five principles (panchsheel), we must have as our goal the forging of beneficial bilateral relations as is appropriate between two large Asian countries.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee said he would not subscribe to the views of a senior Janata member, H.V. Kamath, that the Commonwealth was a sign of slavery and India had little to lose by quitting it. He emphasised that Britain was an ordinary member of the Commonwealth like the others. Thirty-two out of the 35 countries constituting the Commonwealth were developing countries, most of them non-aligned. “The Commonwealth was playing a useful role,” he said, and as long as it did so, India would continue the membership. He said the recent North-South dialogue held between developing and industrialised countries in Paris was “neither a failure nor a success”.